Dr. Anthony Fauci (R), director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and U.S. President Donald Trump participate in the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on April 22, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images
White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci reiterated Thursday that his comments used in one of President Donald Trump‘s campaign ads were taken out of context.
The 30-second ad from Trump’s reelection campaign praises the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and includes a clip of Fauci saying, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.”
“The way that ad went, where they quoted me at the end, it was certainly in the context that looked very much like a political endorsement, and I’ve assiduously avoided that for so many years, like decades,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an interview with Yahoo News.
Fauci said he was referring to the White House Coronavirus Task Force in the early days of the pandemic when the group was working 24 hours a day and “things were really on fire.” Fauci, a member of the task force, said the ad “made it look very much like a political endorsement.” He previously said his comments were taken out of context.
“I have never ever indirectly or directly endorsed a political candidate,” said Fauci, who was appointed director of NIAID in 1984. “I have been in the public health arena and advising six administrations for the last five decades.”
Fauci said he wants to be “completely apolitical” and stay as a “scientist, a physician and a public health person.”
Fauci and Trump have been at odds at times over coronavirus response efforts, with the president often critical of Fauci. Just two days ago, Trump mocked Fauci in a tweet, writing that the infectious disease expert’s “pitching arm is far more accurate than his prognostications.”
“‘No problem, no masks’. WHO no longer likes Lockdowns – just came out against. Trump was right. We saved 2,000,000 USA lives!!!” Trump tweeted.
Trump could be referring to Fauci’s previous criticism about the U.S. not completely locking down early in the outbreak. Fauci said in July that the U.S. had so many coronavirus cases because it “did not shut down entirely.”
The World Health Organization now says full-scale lockdowns should only be used as a last resort if other restrictive measures don’t work.