President Trump recently hinted that if he were to be re-elected, he would consider firing Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), after months of the president largely ignoring Fauci’s medical advice.
New President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his own coronavirus task force on Monday morning and has promised to listen to experts and follow the science amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Confirmed coronavirus cases reached new highs last week, surpassing 100,000 daily cases for several days in a row.)
In any case, the current White House’s shunning of scientific experts have taken a toll.
“You have to remember that Dr. Fauci is being attacked not for any vice or mistake, but for his virtue,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “Not for any weakness but for his strength, and not for any kind of any kind of incompetence but for his competence. He’s actually a protector of the United States, something that the president has failed to be able to do from the very beginning, so I do think that people need to pay for the incompetence, but it’s actually the president and the vice president who need to answer for it, and these attacks on experts are going to haunt us for years to come.”
‘Science is what’s going to get us out of this pandemic’
President Trump has also criticized Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among many others for their statements regarding the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. The president has largely downplayed the magnitude of the virus, despite the American death toll topping 200,000.
“Science is what’s going to get us out of this pandemic and listening to voices like Dr. Fauci, whose hand has guided everything good that’s happened in this pandemic,” Adalja said. “That’s the way to move forward, and I think that this talk of firing Fauci, which I don’t even think the president has the power to do, is really reprehensible.”
Fauci has advocated for masks to continue to be worn, for people to stay at home as much as possible, and for states to not lift their restrictions too soon. He has also been critical about Trump’s approach to the pandemic, particularly that he has ignored the advice of public health officials.
Trump has largely prioritized the economy over public health guidelines, tweeting that “the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”
But both Fauci and Adalja said that the U.S. might not even need to go back to lockdowns in order to get control of the virus but rather simply follow basic health protocols.
“I don’t think that lockdowns are going to be the answer or what we want to be the answer,” Adalja said. “What we need to do is just go back to the basics. We need people to start wearing face coverings when they’re doing activities and just being very mindful of the fact that we’re in a pandemic.”
Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.