Fauci says Trump 'very likely' cost lives by spreading misinformation about COVID-19

  • Fauci said Trump "very likely" cost Americans their lives with COVID-19 misinformation. 
  • The former president regularly downplayed the severity of the pandemic. 
  • "We've really got to restore trust and restore a unified approach," Fauci said. 
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said on Friday that former President Donald Trump "very likely" cost American lives by spreading misinformation about COVID-19. 

When asked by a CNN host on Friday morning whether the Trump administration's lack of "candor" and truthfulness about the pandemic cost lives, Fauci replied, "You know, it very likely did."

"Particularly when you're in the situation of almost being in a crisis with the number of cases and hospitalizations and deaths that we have — when you start talking about things that make no sense medically and no sense scientifically, that clearly is not helpful," he added.

Trump regularly downplayed the threat posed by COVID-19, promoted unproven medical treatments for the virus, mocked the wearing of masks, urged states to end lockdowns prematurely, told Americans not to fear the virus, and contradicted health officials' and scientists' advice.

A study conducted by researchers at Cornell University and released in late September found that Trump was "likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation 'infodemic.'" 

President Joe Biden has made Fauci, who also directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, his chief medical adviser. Biden wants to "reset" the nation's approach to the virus and "let the science speak," Fauci said.  

"We've really got to restore trust and restore a unified approach," he added. 

Fauci also criticized the Trump administration's decision to leave so much of the pandemic response over the last year to state officials, rather than developing a national strategy and helping states implement it.

"The best thing to do is to have a plan, have the federal government interact with the states in a synergistic, cooperative, collaborative way, helping them with resources and helping them with a plan. At the same time, respecting the individual issues that any individual state might have," Fauci said. "That's the way to go, not, 'You're on your own, goodbye, see ya later.'"

During a press briefing on Thursday, Fauci expressed relief that Biden has said he's committed to letting scientists guide his pandemic response. 

"The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence — what the science is, and know that's it, let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling," he told reporters. 

The US is suffering from the most severe coronavirus outbreak in the world. As of Friday, over 24.6 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 410,000 people have died of the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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