Dr. Anthony Fauci pushed back at President Trump’s characterization of him as “a little bit of an alarmist” about the coronavirus, saying he prefers to think of himself as “a realist,” according to a report.
During a free-wheeling interview with Fox News host Chris Wallace that aired Sunday, Trump described the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases like that but insisted that they still have a “very good relationship.”
Fauci, a member of the White House pandemic task force, said in an interview with Maria Shriver on Instagram Live late Monday that he believed the president’s characterization of him was unfair, NBC News reported.
“But then again, others have different opinions,” the 79-year-old added.
“I’m a realist but I’m also an optimist,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has warned that the surging illness could end up being as bad as the 1918 flu pandemic.
That two-year outbreak is believed to have claimed at least 50 million people around the globe.
Fauci also has warned recently that the number of COVID-19 cases could top 100,000 a day.
The top expert became the focus of attacks last week when two administration officials — trade representative Peter Navarro and White House aide Dan Scavino — questioned the decisions he has made and whether he was leaking information on the federal response to the press.
“Dr. Fauci, at the beginning, said this will pass, don’t worry about it, this will pass,” Trump told Wallace. “He was wrong. Dr. Fauci said don’t ban China. I did, he then admitted that I was right.”
Trump also said Fauci had told people not to wear face coverings – though he did so during the early days of the pandemic when surgical masks were in short supply to medical workers.
Shriver also asked Fauci if he’ll be joining Trump at the revived coronavirus briefings, the first one of which was planned for 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Fauci appeared to be unaware that it was taking place, saying he had not gotten the “official word” yet for when it was scheduled.
“If they start the briefings, I would imagine I would be part of it — at least some of them,” he said.
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