Fauci 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after White House 'superspreader' event

Dr Fauci  is a key member of the White House coronavirus response team

Matt Mathers
Monday 19 October 2020 10:00 BST
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Dr Anthony Fauci, one of America's top infectious disease experts, said on Sunday he was "absolutely not" surprised that president Donald Trump got coronavirus following a "superspreader" White House event for supreme court nominee, judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Dr Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House's coronavirus response team, described the crowded GOP Rose Garden gathering as a "precarious situation".

"Absolutely not," said Dr Fauci, 79, when asked by CBS's Jon LaPook if he was surprised Mr Trump had been struck down by the disease. "I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask."

He added: "When I saw that on TV, I said, 'Oh my goodness. Nothing good can come out of that, that's got to be a problem.' And then sure enough, it turned out to be a superspreader event".

On 26 September, Mr Trump, 74, held a reception at the White House Rose garden to introduce judge Barrett, 48, to replace the late supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died just over a week earlier following a cancer diagnosis.

The event was attended by a raft of top Republican and White House officials, with video and images from the event showing guests not wearing face coverings or following social distancing guidelines.

The president and first lady, Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19 following the event. Several of the president's top team also contracted the disease, which has so far claimed some 220,000 US lives.

A number of medical experts - including Dr Fauci - have suggested the gathering may have been the source of those infections, describing it as a "superspreader event".

Washington officials were concerned that the White House medical team did not properly track and trace following the event, and took the unusual step of writing an open letter telling anyone who attended the event to seek medical advice and get tested for the novel disease.

After testing positive, Mr Trump was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center where he was treated by a team of around 10 medical staff and given access to a treatment not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and therefore not available to the general public.

On his return to the White House just four days after being admitted to hospital 2 October, the president told Americans not to be "afraid" of the virus or let it control their lives, telling the nation he felt "great".

Some 10 days after his first reported positive test, the president was given the green light to resume public appearances and was back on the campaign trail by 13 October, holding a rally in Florida.

Kicking off a critical tour of the battleground states with just over two weeks to go until election day, the president visited Nevada on Sunday night as he tries to claw back some ground against his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, who is well ahead in most major polls.

On Monday the president will travel to Maine, Arizona and North Carolina with further visits to Pennsylvania and Nevada later in the week.

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