President Trump said Wednesday that the reason health experts like Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci no longer attend his coronavirus press briefings is because they brief him on "everything they know as of this point in time" and he passes the information on to the public.

Why it matters: Before they were canceled in April, Trump's daily briefings grew infamous for being rife with misinformation, which his health experts would be forced to carefully contradict.

  • On Wednesday, Trump said that he would be "comfortable" with his son and grandchildren returning to school in the fall and claimed that "a lot of people are saying" children don't transmit the virus easily.
  • The science is not yet conclusive on the role of children in spreading COVID-19. A recent study out South Korea found that children between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the coronavirus at least as effectively as adults do.

The exchange:

REPORTER: "I don't think we really got an explanation yesterday on why the health experts are no longer joining you these briefings. Can you explain why?"
TRUMP: "Because they are briefing me. I am meeting with them. I just spoke to Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx is right outside. And they are giving me everything they know as of this point in time and I'm giving the information to you and I think it's probably a very concise way of doing it. It seems to be working out very well. And they are very much involved, the relationships they are all very good."

The big picture: Fauci in particular rarely briefs the president anymore and was not invited to either of the newly-revived briefings that Trump held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

  • Fauci told the New York Times on Tuesday: "[W]ould you want me to say something that’s directly contrary to what the president is doing? That’s not helpful. Then all of a sudden you don’t hear from me for a while."
  • "I’ve just been doing this for so long, and I’m trying to do my best to get the message across without being overtly at odds," he added.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 31,346,086 — Total deaths: 965,294— Total recoveries: 21,518,790Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,858,130 — Total deaths: 199,890 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections — "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.
Sep 20, 2020 - Health

Trump's health secretary asserts control over all new rules

HHS Secretary Alex Azar and President Donald Trump. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote a memo this week giving him authority over all new rules and banning any of the health agencies, including the FDA, from signing any new rules "regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products," the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The story further underscores reporting that health and scientific agencies are undergoing a deep politicization as the Trump administration races to develop a coronavirus vaccine, as Axios' Caitlin Owens has reported. Peter Lurie, a former associate commissioner of the FDA, told the Times that the Azar memo amounted to a "power grab."

Sep 20, 2020 - Health

Ex-FDA chief: Career scientists won't be "easily cowed" by political vaccine pressure

The career scientists involved in the approval process will not be swayed by politics, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

Why it matters: Gottlieb's comments come amid fears that the Trump administration has politicized the coronavirus response and is seeking rapid approval and distribution of a vaccine.

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