Jan 22, 2021 - Health

Fauci: Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives

President Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci acknowledged on CNN's "New Day" Friday that the Trump administration's resistance to following the science on coronavirus policy "very likely" cost lives.

Why it matters: Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert, clashed on numerous occasions with former President Trump after contradicting him on scientific issues like the efficacy of masks and the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine in combating COVID-19.

  • Fauci was sidelined toward the end of the Trump presidency in favor of advisers like Scott Atlas, who frequently pushed coronavirus misinformation.
  • At his first press briefing under the new Biden administration on Thursday, Fauci said it was "somewhat liberating" to be able to publicly provide scientific evidence without fear of being censored.

What he's saying: "You know, it very likely did," Fauci responded when asked by CNN's John Berman whether the Trump administration's "lack of facts" cost lives.

  • "You can see that when you're starting to go down paths that are not based on any science at all — and we've been there before, I don't want to rehash it — that is not helpful at all," he continued.
  • "And particularly when you're in the situation of almost being in a crisis with the number of cases and hospitalizations and deaths that we have, when you start talking about things that make no sense medically and no sense scientifically, that clearly is not helpful."

The big picture: The White House released a 198-page COVID-19 strategy on Thursday that included plans to increase the use of masks and trigger the Defense Production Act for vaccine production. Biden described the coming coronavirus response as a "wartime undertaking."

  • "We have a serious opponent here. The president made the analogy of a war. Yeah, if you look at the numbers, over 400,000 people dead, that's quite comparable to World War II," Fauci said on CNN.
  • "That's the reason why we've really got to restore trust and restore a unified approach."
Biden COVID strategy
Graphic: The White House

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