Fauci comes out fighting on Fox News amid GOP threats to jail him: ‘I didn’t shut down anything’

Fauci says he was ‘one of the people that said we have to do everything we can to get children back in school’

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 24 August 2022 07:38 BST
Fauci comes out fighting on Fox News amid GOP threats to jail him

A day after announcing his decision to step down, Dr Anthony Fauci appeared on Fox News and defended right-wing accusations that he recommended “shutting down everything” during the early days of the Covid pandemic.

Dr Fauci, who led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984 and served seven US presidents, has remained a target of Republicans and countless conspiracies levelled by right-wingers throughout his tenure.

Several GOP leaders, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, have pushed the Biden administration “to jail” and hold him responsible for lockdowns.

Following the announcement of Dr Fauci stepping down as NIAID’s director, some Republicans were quick to claim that his decision was motivated by a potential investigation on him.

On Tuesday, Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto, who has deplored attacks on the virologist by his colleagues in the past, asked him whether his retirement “wasn’t a way to avoid Republican investigations if they take over the house and/or the Senate”.

“Not at all,” Dr Fauci responded, adding he had “nothing to hide”. He said he was willing to testify as a private citizen.

The president’s chief medical adviser also shot down the notion that he imposed the “sweeping shut down” after he was asked if he regretted the decision.

“I think we need to make sure that your listeners understand I didn’t shut down anything,” he shot back.

“There was a lot of consideration in the White House task force that we will be reaching a point where the hospitals, such as in New York city and other places, will be strained to a point of practically being overwhelmed,” he explained.

He said he and another doctor in the administration proposed a 15-day partial lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.

“The records will show, Neil, that we didn’t recommend shutting everything down,” Dr Fauci said, adding he was “one of the people that said we have to do everything we can to get the children back in school”.

The virologist also came out fighting when he was asked about the origins of Covid and whether he was too dismissive of the theory that it was developed in the National Institute of Health and eventually leaked out of a lab in Wuhan.

“This is revisionistic history,” he said. “I’ve always had an open mind and said from the get-go, we should keep an open mind as to the origin.”

“As more and more data came in, including now recent papers from highly qualified virologists from many different countries have shown that it is much more likely that it’s a natural occurrence.”

He slammed the “wide variety of conspiracy theories” surrounding the origins of the virus as well.

“The viruses that they were dealing with, anyone that knows even a little bit about virology will tell you that it would be molecularly impossible for those viruses to have turned into, either accidentally or deliberately, Sars-Cov-2,” he pointed out.

Republican senator from Kentucky Rand Paul tweeted on Monday: “Fauci’s resignation will not prevent a full-throated investigation into the origins of the pandemic. He will be asked to testify under oath regarding any discussions he participated in concerning the lab leak.”

Similarly, Republican senator from Louisiana, John Kennedy, said Dr Fauci “is going to be spending a lot of time in front of a congressional committee and committees” if the Republicans retake the Senate after midterm elections in November.

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