Chief immunologist Dr Anthony Fauci has returned to the White House under the new administration – and admitted it feels better than the old days.
After former president Donald Trump continually contradicted and sidelined him, President Joe Biden has placed the infectious diseases expert firmly front and centre of his new COVID strategy – and asked him to address the World Health Organisation on its details.
And at his first press conference under the 46th president today, Dr Fauci admitted life under the new regime was “liberating”.
He told the gathered press at the White House that it had been difficult to stand besides former president Donald Trump and hear him talking publicly about when he contracted coronavirus and took hydroxychloroquine – a drug experts had warned could be dangerous.
On another occasion Mr Trump suggested drinking disinfectant might be a suitable treatment.
He made what appeared to be a couple of veiled jokes at the start of the press conference alluding to the fact that he preferred life under the new president to the old days – and one American journalist couldn’t resist asking him to elaborate.
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Hesitantly, he asked Dr Fauci if he could explain the “difference” between the two experiences and to clarify what he had been joking about.
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But Dr Fauci laughed: “You say they were jokes – they weren’t. I was serious!”
He went on: “It’s very clear that there were things that were said – be it regarding hydroxychloroquine and other things like that – that was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact.
“I take no pleasure at all of being in a situation of contradicting the president. It was really something you didn’t feel you could actually say something and there wouldn’t be repercussions.
“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.”
President Biden has outlined a series of executive actions to combat the disease as the US braces for its death toll to reach 500,000 lives lost.
One of his new rules, is the requirement to wear a mask and social distance in all federal buildings, on federal lands and by federal employees and contractors.
All White House staff were wearing masks today.