Fauci says Trump failures and political divide over masks led to 500,000 Covid deaths milestone

US accounts for 20% of all global Covid-19 deaths

Mayank Aggarwal
Tuesday 23 February 2021 07:48 GMT
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As America mourned 500,000 coronavirus deaths, the country’s top virologist Dr Anthony Fauci said political divisiveness in the country and the Trump administration’s “mixed signals” on health guidelines were detrimental to efforts to curb the pandemic.

“There’s red states and blue states that are almost hostile to each other in some respects because of political differences … I think that’s the worst possible ingredient to be able to address an outbreak of an infection that even under the best of circumstances would be a formidable challenge,” Dr Fauci said on Monday.

“And then the mixed signals that we were getting from the White House. I mean, you can’t deny that when you have the medical people saying please adhere to these guidelines and then you have the president saying liberate Virginia, liberate Michigan. That’s not helpful,” he said.

“When the American spirit is so divided, that really, really made me sad,” he said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) data, one in every five deaths (at least 20 per cent) across the world due to Covid-19 was in the US which has recorded about 28 million cases.

Dr Fauci, who was in the White House coronavirus task force during the Trump administration and is now a top adviser to Joe Biden as well, said the pandemic arrived in the US as the country was riddled with political divisions in which wearing a mask became a political statement rather than a public health measure.

“However, that does not explain how a rich and sophisticated country can have the most percentage of deaths and be the hardest-hit country in the world. That I believe should not have happened,” Dr Fauci told Reuters news agency.

The infectious diseases expert stated that decades from now people will be talking about the horrible year of 2020. “This is the worst thing that’s happened to this country with regard to the health of the nation in over 100 years,” he said.

During the previous administration, Dr Fauci and Mr Trump were often found publicly disagreeing with each other on Covid-19 related issues. In fact, in January 2021, Mr Trump had publicly lamented that Dr Fauci gets favourable media coverage while his role is ignored in managing the pandemic in the US. 

The former president had talked about firing Dr Fauci at a rally during the 2020 election campaign after the crowd egged him on to do so.

Dr Fauci cautioned that the emergence of coronavirus variants including that from South Africa and Brazil means it is hard to predict when the US will be able to put the pandemic behind it.

Additional reporting by agencies

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