Dr. Anthony Fauci told Fox News that China gave “misinformation” about COVID-19 that left him — and the world — caught off guard.
The public face of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response gave cautious criticism of China’s regime Saturday, telling Fox’s Jesse Watters that an investigation into the spread of false information will have to take place when the pandemic passes, Fox News reported.
“So whose ever fault that was, you know, we’re gonna go back and take a look at that when this is all over. But clearly, it was not the right information that was given to us,” Fauci said, according to Fox.
His message comes as many Republicans have accused China and the World Health Organization (WHO) of suppressing the outbreak.
“We did not get correct information”
Dr. Fauci has generally avoided pointing fingers over the coronavirus, opting instead to give careful, qualified assessments of what went wrong and when (if ever) the economy can open up again. But in an interview with Watters on Saturday, the Trump official adopted a slightly more aggressive tone as the Fox host grilled him about his own response to the pandemic, including his opinion in January that the virus was not a serious health threat.
The immunologist told Watters that he and members of the coronavirus task force were then working with unreliable information provided by the Chinese regime about how the virus spreads. Early on, China gave the impression that the virus was only spreading between animals and humans, obscuring the reality that it was a potential pandemic with the ability to infect human populations rapidly.
“When it became clear that not only is it transmitted efficiently from human to human, but that it was very, very contagious in the sense of easily transmittable, and it also had a high degree of morbidity and mortality. At that point, it became very clear that we were in for a problem because we were getting travel cases from China,” Fauci said, according to Fox. He went on:
And even though we cut off the Chinese pretty quickly, once it seeded in this country, then it does what any highly transmissible virus does. So there’s nothing inconsistent about the information we had.
Watters noted that Dr. Fauci has praised the World Health Organization (WHO), which has come under attack recently by Trump and many Republican lawmakers over a perceived closeness with the Chinese regime. Asked if he was “misled” by China and the WHO, Dr. Fauci avoided assigning blame too directly, but he did say that “we did not get correct information” that “was propagated right from the beginning.”
“They said this was just animal to human, period. Now, we know retrospectively that there was ongoing transmission from human to human in China, probably at least a few weeks before then,” the doctor said, according to Fox. Watch below:
“It boggles my mind”
Elsewhere, Fauci has expressed amazement that wet markets in China, where wildlife are packed together and come into contact with human consumers, are still open, despite the devastation of the ongoing pandemic. Wet markets are seen as a possible point of origin for the virus, although exactly where it came from is still unclear.
“It boggles my mind how, when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface, that we just don’t shut it down,” he told Fox News earlier this month.
But as Republicans blame China and the WHO for an alleged coverup of the outbreak, Democrats have largely focused their attacks on President Trump. The mainstream media have snapped back into full impeachment mode (did they ever stop?), with a new article from The New York Times this weekend claiming that Trump ignored early warning signs.
While seen by many as a trusted expert, Dr. Fauci himself has also come under fire for making draconian recommendations that Americans be issued “immunity cards,” while others have criticized Fauci for pushing the nation, perhaps rashly, toward a country-wide lockdown that has devastated the economy. President Trump retweeted a call to fire Dr. Fauci on Easter Sunday, Axios noted, but just a day later, the two dismissed any speculation of a rift, according to The Washington Times.