Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, laughs while speaking in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Dr. Anthony Fauci is back at the White House podium — and feeling liberated.
Fauci, President Biden’s newly-minted chief medical officer, made it clear that he felt much more comfortable working for his new boss than former President Trump, who had a habit of making bonkers claims about the coronavirus.
“It’s very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact,” Fauci said during his first White House briefing of the Biden administration.
“I can tell you I take no pleasure at all being in a situation of contradicting the president so it was really something that you didn’t feel that you could actually say something, and there wouldn’t be any repercussions about it,” he continued. “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.”
Fauci sought to sidestep discussion of the Trump administration. But he made clear he was happier with the new regime.
“One of the new things in this administration is, if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Just say you don’t know the answer,” he said with a laugh.
The infectious disease expert was the early face of the U.S. coronavirus response but was somewhat sidelined after Trump grew furious that Fauci dared to contradict his lies about the coronavirus. He reportedly had little to no contact with the president for several months at a time. Biden opted to keep Fauci on to help continue to battle the pandemic.
Fauci made clear there’s a lot of work to do to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus — and sought to temper expectations about how fast America might return to normal.
His best-case scenario?
“If we get 70 to 85 percent of the country vaccinated, let’s say by the end of the summer, middle of the summer, I believe by the time we get to the fall we will be approaching a degree of normality. It’s not going to be perfectly normal, but one that I think will take a lot of pressure off the American public,” he said.