The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the U.S. is “certainly” still in the middle of a Covid-19 pandemic and he is “very troubled” by the divisive state of American politics.
“As a public health official, I don’t want to see anyone suffer and die from Covid,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “I don’t care if you’re a far-right Republican or a far-left Democrat, everybody deserves to have the safety of good public health and that’s not happening.”
Fauci said between 300 and 400 people are still dying from Covid every day, and the uptake of the latest vaccine booster has been less than 15%.
“I think the idea that forget it, this is over — it isn’t,” he said.
The 81-year-old became a household name during the Covid-19 pandemic, battling back against misinformation — sometimes from the highest levels of government. He challenged former President Donald Trump on everything from the use of hydroxychloroquine to mask mandates, and his steadfast commitment to science made him a quasi-celebrity.
White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said Sunday he knows it has been a long two years for Americans, but that it is still “incredibly important” to get vaccinated ahead of the holiday season.
“We understand that people want to move on,” Jha told ABC News’ “This Week,” “The good news is, they can move on if they keep their immunity up to date.”
Fauci announced plans in August to step down from his roles running the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and advising the White House as its chief medical advisor at the end of the year. He gave his expected final Covid briefing Tuesday, where he encouraged people to get vaccinated.
“I hope to be remembered for what I’ve tried to do, just bring science and medicine and public health principles to very serious crises we’ve had,” Fauci said Sunday. “As I’ve said before, I’ve given it everything I have to do that.”
Fauci has advised seven U.S. presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan through the HIV/AIDS epidemic, West Nile virus, the 2001 anthrax attacks, pandemic influenza, various bird influenza threats, Ebola, Zika and, most recently, Covid and monkeypox.