The main epidemiologist in the United States, Anthony Fauci, confessed on Thursday his relief at the departure of former President Donald Trump, assuring that it is “liberating” to be able to speak clearly about what science says about covid-19 without fear of “repercussions. “.
Fauci, who is now the main medical adviser to the new president, Joe Biden, admitted the discomfort generated by his attitude towards the Trump pandemic, which repeatedly downplayed the risk posed by the coronavirus and contradicted the conclusions of the experts on numerous occasions. .
“The idea that we can come up here and talk about what we know, what the scientific evidence says, and let the science speak, is a pretty liberating feeling,” Fauci said during a press conference at the White House.
The country’s leading infectious disease expert said he “clearly” felt “uncomfortable” when, during press conferences in which both participated for part of last year, Trump said things “that were not based on facts,” such as for example his defense of hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic against covid-19.
“I don’t really like being in a situation where I have to contradict the president, and I didn’t really feel like I could say anything and there would be no repercussions,” he said.
Tension between Trump and Fauci has grown over the past year, and the White House stopped inviting the epidemiologist to give press conferences on the pandemic.
The former president even threatened to fire Fauci, but later realized that he did not have the authority to do so, because his was not a political position, but a civil service position: that of director of the National Institute of Allergies and Diseases Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Biden is the seventh president of the United States that Fauci has advised, who has led the NIAID since 1984 and is one of the most respected figures in the country’s scientific community, a fame that has only grown during the pandemic.
In his first press conference under Biden, Fauci thanked the new president for instructing him to be “completely transparent and honest.”
“One of the new things in this Administration is that if we do not know the answer, we do not have to risk an assumption. We simply say that we do not know the answer,” he said.
During the press conference, Fauci also assured that for now there is no confirmation that the South African variant of covid-19 has reached the United States, while the British is already present in about 20 states.
Everything indicates that the vaccines that are being administered in the United States and other countries protect against these new variants, but if injectable preparations have to be modified, that process “will not be too onerous,” he calculated.
The United States is the country in the world most affected by the pandemic in absolute terms, with more than 408,000 deaths and 24.5 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Biden presented on Thursday his strategy to accelerate the response to the pandemic, although he acknowledged that it will take months to “turn around” the situation he inherited from Trump.