Bulletin
Investor Alert

New York Markets Close in:

Associated Press Archives | Email alerts

Jan. 24, 2021, 2:52 p.m. EST

Fauci elevating profile as public face of Biden White House’s pandemic battle plan

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

Associated Press

1 2

Fauci was up well before dawn Thursday for the virtual meeting with WHO, which Biden had rejoined the previous day after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the group out of anger over how it dealt with China in the early days of the pandemic. Fauci told the group that the United States would join its effort to deliver coronavirus vaccines to poor countries.

In the afternoon, the doctor stood alongside Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in the White House as they unveiled a series of executive orders aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, which is killing more than 4,000 people a day in the U.S., as well as bolstering the nation’s sluggish vaccine distribution program.

Fauci had chatted amiably with reporters while awaiting the tardy new president. He acknowledged it was a long day and said that while he’d prefer to go for a run, he planned to powerwalk a few miles Thursday evening.

It was all a stark contrast after being kept on a tight leash by the Trump administration. Their West Wing press shop had tightly controlled Fauci’s media appearances — and blocked most of them. The doctor went from being a constant presence in the briefing room during the first weeks of the pandemic to largely being banished as Trump grew jealous of the doctor’s positive press and resentful of Fauci’s willingness to contradict him.

Moreover, Trump frequently undermined Fauci’s credibility, falsely insisting that the pandemic was nearly over. The president regularly referenced Fauci’s early skepticism about the effectiveness of masks for ordinary Americans, a position that Fauci quickly abandoned in the face of more evidence. And he even made fun of Fauci’s first pitch at a Washington Nationals game , going on to announce he would be throwing out a first pitch at Yankee Stadium in a few weeks’ time and later canceling that plan, with the Yankees saying they’d never invited Trump in the first place.

Also see: Four days after Election Day, Washington Nationals invite Biden to throw first pitch on Opening Day

The president’s attacks on Fauci — and his dismissiveness of the science — handicapped medical professionals trying to get Americans to take the virus seriously.

“There was clear political influence on the message of the pandemic. It became political to say that the pandemic was devastating our community because it was interpreted as a judgment on Trump,” said Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious-diseases physician and a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine. “It actively created enemies of the public health folks in a segment of the population.”

Having Fauci return to a central role, Bhadelia said, is a sign “that science was being repressed and now back.”

As his handling of the pandemic became the defining issue in the 2020 campaign, Trump insisted on portraying the virus as a thing of the past. He also mercilessly attacked Fauci, retweeting messages that called for the doctor’s dismissal and reveled in “Fire Fauci!” chants at some of his rallies.

Trump sidelined Fauci but dared not dismiss him, after aides convinced him of the move’s political danger.

But Fauci, who has now served under seven presidents, persevered, telling friends that he would keep his head down and aim to outlast Trump and the obfuscations of his administration.

“Clarity of message is the most important thing the government can be doing right now; the single biggest disservice Trump did was constantly telling people that pandemic was about to be over,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, who has known Fauci for more than 20 years.

In his return to the briefing room, Fauci joked with reporters, seemingly far more relaxed than at any point last year. And as he stepped off the stage, Psaki said she’d soon invite him back to the podium.

MarketWatch contributed.

1 2
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Economy & Politics

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »

Partner Center

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.