Fauci scoffs at accusations COVID pandemic response was political

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday scoffed at criticism that he “aligned himself” with Democratic leaders at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak — and said he’d “absolutely” cooperate with an investigation by House Republicans into the pandemic.

“I don’t align myself with anybody, Chuck,” the retiring chief White House medical adviser told NBC’s “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd as he made the rounds of the Sunday morning news talk shows.

“I’m a physician, I’m a scientist, I’m a public health person,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, I go by the public health principles.”

Fauci, the 81-year-old outgoing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the comments after being asked about former Vice President Mike Pence’s statements on the program last week.

“I believe Dr. Fauci ultimately aligned himself with many Democratic governors who took what were temporary policies and made them long-term policies in their state,” Pence, 63, said at the time.

Fauci retorted: “I respect the former vice president, we got along very well in the White House, but I disagree with him.”

Fauci also appeared on CBS’ “Face The Nation,” where he said he would “absolutely” cooperate with a potential investigation into his handling of the pandemic — and would be willing to testify before Congress if called by Republicans who have accused him of lying and abusing his power.

“Oh, of course. I mean, I’m very much in favor of — of legitimate oversight. Absolutely. I mean, I’ve testified before Congress, given the 38 years that I’ve been director, literally hundreds of times, in many oversight hearings,” Fauci said.

“I’m not political at all, period. I’ve never been and anybody who knows anything about me knows that that’s the case,” he continued.

“I didn’t get involved before in the politics. And I’m not going to get involved now in the politics. I’d be more than happy to explain publicly or otherwise, everything that we’ve done, and I could defend and explain everything that we’ve done from a public health standpoint.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical adviser, discusses RSV infections, the origins of COVID-19 and what he plans to do after retiring at the end of the year.
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday scoffed at criticism that he “aligned himself” with Democratic leaders at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak.
CBS/Face the Nation

When asked why the issue was politicized, Fauci, who had conceded that parts of the pandemic response were “botched,” blamed “an amplification” of anti-science and vaccination rhetoric.

“There is something I’ve never seen in my 54 years in medicine at the NIH, is that the acceptance or not of a life-saving intervention is steered very heavily by your political ideology,” he said.

“I mean, why would you ever want to see … more deaths among red state Republicans than there are among blue states Democrat? Merely because of the fact that there is less vaccination. You don’t want anybody to get sick.”

Fauci, who had COVID-19 himself earlier in the year, urged Americans to take rapid tests for COVID-19 ahead of any holiday parties or gatherings and “keep up on booster” shots, warning of the surge in transmission of BQ. 1, and the BQ 1.1 variants.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical adviser, discusses RSV infections, the origins of COVID-19 and what he plans to do after retiring at the end of the year.
“I don’t align myself with anybody, Chuck,” the retiring chief White House medical adviser told NBC’s “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd.
CBS/Face the Nation

“We have a long way to go to optimize our protection against COVID, which is really a shame, somewhat paradoxical, that a rich country with all the vaccines that we need, and we’re utilizing them at a much lower level than we should be,” Fauci told CBS News anchor Margaret Brennan.

More than 2,600 Americans died of the virus last week down from nearly 13,000 people during Thanksgiving Week last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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