Dr. Anthony Fauci believes that he should’ve been “much more careful” in his messaging during the initial U.S. COVID-19 outbreak, saying that his early statements should’ve repeated “the uncertainty of what we’re going through.”
“When I said, ‘At this particular time, we should not necessarily do anything different,’ that’s when there was, like, five cases in the country,” Fauci said. “But then I said — I kid around about it — it was semicolon, ‘However, this could change rapidly and we need to be prepared.'”
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Fauci spoke with Washington Post national health reporter Dan Diamond on Oct. 4 at a seminar hosted by the University of Southern California’s Center for Health Journalism. Along with discussing COVID and monkeypox, Fauci recalled the media coverage of his role during the pandemic, and how he was both scrutinized and revered by the public.
“When I say we should get vaccinated because it saves lives, and someone says ‘no,’ am I the polarizing figure? Or is the person who’s saying something that’s completely untrue, creating the polarization?” Fauci asked rhetorically. “Some people say hydroxychloroquine works — it’s the end-all. I say, there’s no data that shows that it works. Am I being politicized? Am I polarizing? I don’t think so — I’m just sticking with the data.”
Fauci also noted how the media can distort certain messages and “make mischief by clipping out a few words.”
“You have to be very careful,” he said. “It is really unfortunate that that’s the world in which we live, in that it’s a bunch of sound bites — sound bites that sometimes get cut in half and get misinterpreted.”
Fauci will step down from his role in the federal government in December. Although he’s not aware of who will be taking over his positions, Fauci stressed the importance of having a “public health figure who’s a scientist” that can advise the public.
“There will be another Fauci,” he said. “Not exactly like me, just like I’m not exactly like anybody else.”
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