Providers rush to defend after White House effort to 'discredit' Fauci

Anthony Fauci speaks at the White House on April 16, 2020
Provider groups are rushing to defend popular infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, M.D., after a White House effort to discredit him. (C-SPAN)

Several provider groups bashed the White House over reports that it is attempting to discredit top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, M.D.

The statements argue that the advice of public health experts such as Fauci is needed to get the country through the COVID-19 pandemic. The response comes as COVID-19 cases continue to soar to record highs and hospitals in new hot spots are in precipitous danger of becoming overwhelmed.

“As we are seeing from the surge in COVID-19 cases in areas that have reopened, science and facts—not wishful thinking or politics—must guide America’s response to this pandemic,” said the Association of American Medical Colleges in a statement Monday.

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The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and HIV Medicines Association also leaped to defend Fauci.

“If we have any hope of ending this crisis, all of America must support public health experts, including Dr. Fauci, the preeminent infectious diseases scientist and public health expert in the country and the best person for the job,” a statement from the IDSA said.

The group slammed efforts to discredit Fauci, including taking his quotes out of context to “discredit his scientific knowledge and judgment.”

The statement comes after several sources told CNN and other news outlets about the amount of times Fauci, who heads of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been wrong since the pandemic began.

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CNN cited a White House memo that noted Fauci said at the beginning of the pandemic people should not be wearing masks. Fauci and other administration officials made those statements at the onset of the pandemic before more information was known about how the virus spreads.

Public health expert Ashish Jha tweeted that the White House is correct Fauci was wrong at times, but that doesn't mean he should be ignored.

"His track record isn't perfect," said Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. "It's just better than anyone else I know. Sidelining Dr. Fauci makes the federal response worse. And it's the American people who suffer."

The White House attempted to play down any rift between Fauci, whose popularity has grown since the crisis began, and President Trump who is facing a tough reelection battle.

“The notion that there’s opposition research and that there’s Fauci versus the President, it couldn’t be further from the truth,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. “Dr. Fauci and the President have always had a very good working relationship.”