In DepthPandemic Qs

Fauci's straight talk

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Science  27 Mar 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6485, pp. 1414
DOI: 10.1126/science.367.6485.1414-a

To many watching the White House press brief ngs on the coronavirus pandemic, veteran public health expert Anthony Fauci has become the voice of science and reason on how the country should respond. He made national news this week for his careful but candid assessment to Science's Jon Cohen of the challenges of working for President Donald Trump during the crisis. “When you're dealing with the White House, sometimes you have to say things one, two, three, four times, and then it happens. So, I'm going to keep pushing,” says Fauci, longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. His full interview is at

Q:The first question everyone has is how are you?

A:Well, I'm sort of exhausted. But other than that, I'm good. I mean, I'm not, to my knowledge, coronavirus infected. To my knowledge, I haven't been f red [laughs].

Q:How are you managing to not get fired?

A:To [Trump's] credit, even though we disagree on some things, he listens. He goes his own way. He has his own style. But on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say.

Q:You've been in press conferences where things are happening that you disagree with, is that fair to say?

A:Well, I don't disagree in the substance. It is expressed in a way that I would not express it, because it could lead to some misunderstanding about what the facts are about a given subject.

Q:You're standing there saying nobody should gather with more than 10 people and there are almost 10 people on the stage [and] more than 10 journalists.

A:I know that. I'm trying my best. I cannot do the impossible.

Q:We've had all this pandemic preparedness. What went wrong?

A:I think we'll have to wait until it is over and we look back before we can answer that. It's almost like the fog of war. After the war is over, you then look back and say, “Wow, this plan, as great as it was, didn't quite work once they started throwing hand grenades at us.” Obviously, testing [for the new coronavirus] is one clear issue that needs to be relooked at. Why were we not able to mobilize on a broader scale? But I don't think we can do that right now. I think it's premature. We really need to look forward.

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