When fielding questions on President Joe Biden's plan to tackle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the nation’s top infectious expert said he can "let the science speak" under the new administration — a feeling he described as "liberating."
Shortly before departing the podium during an appearance at a White House press briefing on Thursday afternoon, Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked by a reporter if he feels "less constrained" under the new administration.
Though noting he would prefer to avoid "going back over history," Fauci said that it was "very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that — that really was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact," he said, referring to former President Donald Trump's controversial comments on the malaria drug.
"I can tell you I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president, so it was really something that you didn’t feel you could actually say something and there wouldn’t be any repercussions about it," continued Fauci. "The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence and science is, and know that’s it — let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling."
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and newly appointed chief medical adviser to Biden, added that his commitment to transparency is why he "got in trouble sometimes" when Trump was still in office.
"One of the things that was very clear as recently as about 15 minutes ago when I was with the president, is that one of the things we’re going to do is be completely transparent open and honest," Fauci said during the briefing. "If things go wrong, not point fingers but correct them, and to make everything we do be based on science and evidence. That was literally a conversation I had 15 minutes ago with the president, and he has said that multiple times."
Additionally, Fauci noted that the new administration would not be "starting from scratch" in terms of a coronavirus vaccine distribution effort. His comments contradict a CNN report that suggests otherwise.
"We're certainly not starting from scratch because there is activity going on in the distribution. But if you look at the plan that the president has put forth about the things he is going to do — namely get community vaccine centers up, get pharmacies more involved ... it's taken what's gone on, but amplifying it in a big way," he said.
The infectious disease expert also said that President Biden’s goal to vaccinate 100 million Americans in the administration’s first 100 days is "quite reasonable."
Reiterating remarks he's made in the past, Fauci said if 85% of the country is vaccinated by the end of the summer, "we will be approaching a degree of normality" by the fall.