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Dr. Anthony Fauci at a coronavirus press conference at the White House. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Politico that the nation's political polarization is forcing him to "walk the fine balance" of informing the public about the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak and combating misinformation — which can sometimes come from President Trump.

What he's saying: "You should never destroy your own credibility. And you don't want to go to war with a president. ... But you got to walk the fine balance of making sure you continue to tell the truth."

The state of play: "I don't think that we are going to get out this completely unscathed. ... I think this is going to be one of those things we look back on and say boy, that was bad," Fauci told Politico.

  • "It could be really, really bad. I don't think it's gonna be, because I think we'd be able to do the kind of mitigation. It could be mild. I don't think it's going to be that mild either. It's really going to depend on how we mobilize," he added.

The big picture: Fauci, who has worked under six presidential administrations and took the lead on combatting the HIV/AIDS crisis while President Reagan was in office, is an infectious disease expert who has earned the trust of both Democrats and Republicans over his career.

  • "If I'm buying real estate in New York, I'll listen to the president of the United States. If I'm asking about infectious diseases, I'm going to listen to Tony Fauci," Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Worth noting: Fauci also denied to Politico that the White House had pulled him from televised interviews regarding coronavirus, telling the outlet that Vice President Pence's office — which is now heading the response to the virus — wanted to re-clear his appearances after taking point on the issue.

Go deeper: Coronavirus "infodemic" threatens world's health institutions

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

4 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.