Fauci said the decision to “do whatever it takes and develop a vaccine” was “the best decision I have ever made regarding an intervention as director of the institute,” referring to his role at the National Allergy Institute and infectious diseases. The agency’s vaccine research center helped develop a key component for ultimately successful acquisitions by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.
But Fauci’s characterization drew Trump’s anger, who posted a statement and repeatedly touted on the air that he was the reason the vaccines were developed so quickly.
In his statement on Monday, Trump called the emergency-approved vaccines “American vaccines,” even though the first vaccine approved in the US by the Food and Drug Administration was developed by Turkish immigrants who worked BioNTech in Germany and later worked with Pfizer to bring it to market. Pfizer, who makes the vaccine, did not receive any development funding from the government.
“DR. Fauci was unable to push the FDA to get it through any faster. I was the one who did it, and even the fake news media know and report this,” Trump said, despite Fauci in his capacity as a NIAID -Director had no authority to pressure the FDA to make such decisions.
Fauci also told CNN that Trump’s use of social media would go against the government’s response. Birx also criticized the federal government’s inconsistent messages as “mistake number one”.
“What hit me like a slap in the chest was that he suddenly stood up and said, ‘Free Virginia, free Michigan’ and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what’s going on here?’ Fauci told CNN, referring to a number of Trump tweets, “It shocked me because it was such a jolt to what we were trying to do.”
In his statement, Trump referred to Fauci as “the king of” flip-flops “and moved the goal posts to make himself as good as possible,” while adding that he ignored Fauci and Birx’s recommendations. With the coronavirus unknown to the world before the end of 2019, scientists and health officials fighting the pandemic have often revised their advice as they learned more about the virus and the disease it causes.
Birx told CNN that the Trump administration could have done more to prevent hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 deaths in the US. To date, nearly 550,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.
“I see it that way – the first time we have an excuse. There have been about 100,000 deaths from this original wave, “she said. “In my opinion, all the others could have been considerably mitigated or reduced.”
Trump criticized Birx for not following her own advice, citing a family outing she took the day after Thanksgiving while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans not to travel over the holidays. Birx later announced that she would retire from her position.
In the past, Birx has said that she “always” thought about leaving the Trump administration because of the bipartisan nature of the workplace.
“DR. Birx has been a terrible medical advisor so I’ve rarely followed her advice,” Trump said in his statement.
In the interview, which aired on Sunday, Birx also spoke of a call she received from Trump after speaking publicly on CNN about the spread of Covid-19 in August.
“Everyone in the White House was upset about this interview and the clarity I brought about the epidemic,” she said. “I got a call from the president. It was very uncomfortable, very direct, and very difficult to hear. “
Trump denied there was a “very difficult” call and criticized Birx for her guidelines, which he said “would have led us straight into a COVID-induced depression.”
“Time has proven me right,” he said. “I only kept Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx because they worked for the US government for so long – they are like a bad habit!”