A video has reemerged of former president George HW Bush hailing the doctor leading the current administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as an inspiring national figure, while Donald Trump continues to contradict his top health official in the face of the crisis.
During a 1988 presidential debate, then-candidate Bush — who served as US president from 1989 to 1993 — pointed to Dr Anthony Fauci when asked to cite modern-day “heroes” who “inspire” Americans.
“Probably never heard of him”, he said. “He’s a very fine research… top doctor at the National Institutes of Health, working hard doing something about research on this disease of AIDS.”
The video provides a contrast with what appeared to be Dr Fauci’s quiet agitation with the president’s rant against his “deep State Department” and the spread of disinformation about the application of an anti-malarial medicine to combat the virus, which Mr Trump also repeated on Twitter.
As the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Fauci has had to refute Mr Trump’s ongoing contradictions and unproven medical claims that the president echoes on social media and in his frequent briefings from the White House, amplified to millions of people.
Asked about whether the drug was a promising solution, Dr Fauci said that “the answer is no”.
He said the president’s alleged evidence is “anecdotal” and that there is no “magic drug” to combat the Covid-19 virus.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Dr Fauci admitted that he has to “publicly say something different” than whatever the president says, though Mr Trump has not yet been “pissed off” with his frank remarks.
He said: “I don’t want to embarrass him … I don’t want to act like a tough guy, like I stood up to the president. I just want to get the facts out. And instead of saying, ‘You’re wrong,’ all you need to do is continually talk about what the data are and what the evidence is.”
Despite Dr Fauci and other health officials’ frequent public headbutting with the administration’s inflated and overconfident claims, he says that he believes the president “absolutely” understands the pandemic’s threat.