Discussing his initial messaging about the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted he should have been “more careful” in the pandemic’s early stages, including conveying the uncertainty of the event.
While speaking at a seminar hosted by the University of Southern California’s Center for Health Journalism on Tuesday (October 4), Fauci reflected on his role in the first few months of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dan Diamond, the national health reporter for the Washington Post, asked Fauci — who is stepping down from his role in December — if there was anything he would have done differently during the pandemic.
In response, Fauci explained, “You know, the answer is yes, Dan. I mean, my goodness, no one’s perfect. Certainly I am not,” adding, “When I go back in the early months, I probably should have tried to be much, much more careful in getting the message to repeat — the uncertainty of what we’re going through.”
Fauci pointed to his early comments on the virus, explaining that in the early days of the pandemic, he expressed lifestyle changes weren’t necessary, with the caveat that his recommendation could change as conditions “change rapidly and we need to be prepared.”
But the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases lamented how the only remarks “thrown back” in his face as the pandemic progressed was the recommendation things didn’t need to change.
He acknowledged that when he said it, the messaging was accurate, explaining that at the time, they weren’t fully appreciating the way the virus was transmitted and that had they said, “‘Hey, you know, we’ve had five cases in the country. We need to shut down.’ People would have looked at us like we were crazy.”