Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, is defending former White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx amid scrutiny of her time under former President Trump.
In an interview with The Atlantic published Wednesday, Fauci, who unlike Birx is staying on in the new Biden administration, was asked whether she should have spoken out more forcefully against the former administration’s COVID-19 response after she criticized it in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“It’s a tough situation. I will defend her. Unlike the situation that the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] commissioner and the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] director and I were in, she had to live in the White House,’” Fauci said, referring to Trump’s coronavirus task force.
“She had to be there every minute of the day with these people. You’ve got to take that into consideration when you judge how much she did or did not push back. She told me multiple times, ‘Tony, this is the worst, most painful 11 months of my entire life,’ ” he said.
Fauci told The Atlantic this week that he felt bad for Birx when Trump brought in Scott Atlas as his pandemic adviser, who he called a “complete foil to poor” Birx.
“I felt so bad for her, because he completely undermined her. He didn’t undermine me, because I didn’t give a shit about him,” he said. “I didn’t really care what he said, because my home base was [the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases]. But Deb’s home base was the White House.”
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