WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci has rejected President Donald Trump’s recent criticism of him in which he called the infectious disease expert an “alarmist.”
“I consider myself a realist, as opposed to an alarmist,” Fauci said in an interview on Instagram Live with Maria Schriver.
Asked if Trump’s characterization of him was unfair, Fauci said on Monday, “I believe so, but then again, others have different opinions.”
“I’m a realist but I’m also an optimist,” added Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci warned last week that the coronavirus pandemic could be as bad as the 1918 flu pandemic, which is estimated to have killed at least 50 million people worldwide. He also warned late last month that the number of COVID-19 cases could top 100,000 a day.
Fauci’s comments Monday on Instagram came after the president said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” that Fauci is “a little bit of an alarmist.”
“Dr. Fauci, at the beginning, said this will pass, don’t worry about it, this will pass,” Trump said. “He was wrong. Dr. Fauci said don’t ban China. I did, he then admitted that I was right”
Trump said that this administration is not involved in a campaign to discredit Fauci, but then questioned why the infectious disease expert had said at the beginning of the outbreak that people shouldn’t wear a mask.
“Dr. Fauci told me not to ban China, it would be a big mistake. I did it over and above his reservation,” Trump said. “Dr. Fauci then said, ‘You saved tens of thousands of lives,’ more than that.’ Dr. Fauci’s made some mistakes, but I have a very good — I spoke to him yesterday at length — I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.”