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Dr Fauci hits back at Musk claims he should be prosecuted: ‘Cesspool of misinformation’

“I don’t pay attention to that,” Dr Fauci says of Mr Musk’s recent remarks

Abe Asher,Andrew Feinberg
Monday 12 December 2022 21:35 GMT
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Dr Fauci urges American people to get vaccinated in final address before retirement

Dr Anthony Fauci, the outgoing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who helped steer the country through the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, brushed off criticism from Twitter’s Elon Musk on Monday.

On Sunday, Mr Musk, who has increasingly broadcast far right views in recent months, tweeted: “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci.”

Dr Fauci, who has faced hostility from conservatives for years due to his support of public health measures to limit the spread and severity of Covid, told reporter Max Kozlov of the science magazine Nature that he was not bothered by Mr Musk’s attack.

“I don’t pay attention to that, Max, and I don’t even feel I need to respond,” Dr Fauci told Kozlov. “A lot of that stuff is just a cesspool of misinformation, and I don’t waste a minute worrying about it.”

Kozlov tweeted that a full interview with Dr Fauci is forthcoming.

Mr Musk, who was an early skeptic of Covid public health measures and remote work, at one point tweeted that there would likely be no new US cases of Covid by April of 2020. His lack of public health credentials notwithstanding, Mr Musk’s tweet was amplified by critics of Dr Fauci like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

Mr Musk’s tweet also mocked the increasingly common practice of people explicitly stating their preferred gender pronouns, a practice aimed at ensuring that people are not misgendered.

The practice has rankled political conservatives and members of the far right who are advocates for the gender binary and traditional gender roles. Mr Musk has claimed that he is a political moderate, but he also tweeted an endorsement of Republican candidates in the buildup to this year’s midterm election and tweeted he would be open to supporting staunch conservative Gov Ron DeSantis of Florida for president.

Mr Musk’s recent takeover of Twitter has driven a number of advertisers from the social media platform.

In a guest column in The New York Times over the weekend, Dr Fauci decried the role of misinformation in the country’s struggle to contain the virus.

“We also must acknowledge that our fight against C‌‌ovid-19 has been hindered by the profound political divisiveness in our society,” Dr Fauci wrote. “In a way that we have never seen before, decisions about public health measures such as wearing masks and being vaccinated with highly effective and safe vaccines have been influenced by disinformation and political ideology.”

Dr Fauci is preparing to retirement from government work after more than a half century of service at the end of the month.

Asked about Mr Musk’s bizarre comments about the veteran virologist, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at her daily press briefing on Monday that the White House’s view of the “personal attacks” on Dr Fauci is that they are “dangerous ... disgusting ... and divorced from reality”.

“Dr Fauci has served under seven Republican and Democratic presidents, we cannot forget that he has given his almost entire career to civil service,” she said. “His work on infectious disease from HIV Aids to COVID has saved countless lives and ... we are fortunate he has devoted his career and his life and his exceptional talent to America's public health”.

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