'Winter is coming': Fauci warns of Covid-19 spike after fall, slams Trump for focusing on reopening US economy
Fauci said Joe Biden was taking the pandemic seriously from a public health perspective while the White House accused him of 'playing politics'
President Donald Trump has been downplaying the rising Covid-19 cases in many states and has often claimed that the US is ‘rounding’ the corner on the coronavirus pandemic. However, infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has warned that Americans are in for “a whole lot of hurt” even as he predicted 100,000 or more cases a day and a rising death toll in the coming weeks. He said that the US must make an “abrupt change” in public health practices and behaviors.
“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly," Dr Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) told The Washington Post.
Previously, Dr Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), had cautioned that the US is likely to face the “biggest wave” of coronavirus infections till a vaccine gets approved or authorized for emergency use.
So far, 9,201,500 coronavirus cases have been reported from across the US and over 230,960 Americans have died in the pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. The coronavirus tracker of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that as of November 1, about 9,105,230 cases have been reported to the agency, including 80,932 new infections. In the last seven days alone, 551,403 Covid-19 cases have been recorded in the US.
Dr Fauci criticized the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic. When asked about the approaches of the two presidential candidates, he said Joe Biden was “taking it seriously from a public health perspective", while Trump was “looking at it from a different perspective… the economy and reopening the country".
According to Dr Fauci, who is part of the White House coronavirus task force, currently, the public health aspect of the task force has “diminished greatly". “The last time I spoke to the president was not about any policy, it was when he was recovering in Walter Reed, he called me up,” he explained. Dr Fauci added that he called into meetings of other staffers but largely avoided the West Wing because “of all the infections there".
Dr Fauci was also critical of White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas, who recently claimed that there is a likelihood that only 20%-25% of Americans need the infection for herd immunity to potentially kick in. Not mincing words, he said during the interview, “I have real problems with that guy (Atlas). He’s a smart guy who’s talking about things that I believe he doesn’t have any real insight or knowledge or experience in. He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn’t make any sense."
Dr Michael Osterholm, director of Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, had earlier rubbished Atlas’s statements on herd immunity. According to him, one wants to achieve herd immunity, but “we don't want to get there through disease” and instead “we want to get there through a vaccination program".
Meanwhile, Dr Fauci’s comments drew a sharp rebuke from the White House, which accused him of “playing politics". “(Dr Fauci) knows the risks (from Covid-19) today are dramatically lower than they were only a few months ago. It’s unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Dr Fauci, a senior member of the President’s coronavirus task force and someone who has praised President Trump’s actions throughout this pandemic, to choose three days before an election to play politics,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman told The Washington Post in a statement.
“As a member of the task force, Dr Fauci has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy, but he’s not done that, instead choosing to criticize the President in the media and make his political leanings known by praising the President’s opponent. (The president) always put the well-being of the American people first,” said Deere.