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Dr. Fauci talks misinformation, what he would have done differently during COVID-19 pandemic

'It's not flip-flopping. It's keeping up with the evidence.'
Dr. Fauci
Posted at 12:03 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 13:20:42-05

To some, he is the most trusted man in medicine. But to others, he is one of the most polarizing.

Dr. Anthony Fauci's tenure in public health is marked with major triumphs, but also controversy, especially as he was thrust into the middle of the political debate swirling around COVID-19.

He's worked for more than half a century at the National Institutes of Health, served under seven different administrations, and even earned a Presidential Medal of Freedom - even though Fauci has ascended to what many would consider being the peak of public health careers, he says his humble beginnings are really what shaped him, even to this day.

"You learn that growing up on the mean streets of New York and it still serves me well," Fauci told Scripps station KNXV.

In his more than 50 years of government service, Fauci has had his hand in treating many diseases that have altered life as we know it, like HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, the Ebola crisis in 2014, and now, COVID-19, which would catapult him into the spotlight -- and the hot seat.

KNXV asked him if there was anything he would have done differently looking back when it comes to his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Of course," he said. "To say there is nothing you would have done differently means you are perfect and nobody is perfect -- certainly not I...of course, there are things we would have done differently. If we would have known then what we know now. And that's what we have to make sure the public understands, when you have an evolving outbreak, the science gives you info that is present and current at the time and when that changes, you need to change. Some people call that flip-flopping, but it's not flip-flopping. It's keeping up with the evidence."

Fauci also says he would have recommended masks sooner if we would have had more of the science readily available.

"Had we known it was aerosol spread and that a lot of the transmission was from asymptomatic people and there was asymptomatic spread going on then, of course, we would have recommended masking up sooner," he said.

Fauci was also the topic of much criticism, with Republicans vowing to have him testify before Congress when they take control of the House in January. Fauci says he welcomes it and has testified before Congress hundreds of times.

But it wasn't just politicians; there were everyday people who took out their anger on Fauci, even personally blaming him for schools and businesses shutting down.

Fauci was asked what it was like to be the subject of so much anger and hostility throughout the pandemic.

"It certainly wasn't pleasant but what I was able to do and still do is compartmentalize and focus like a laser on what my job is and what my purpose is," he said.

But there is something Fauci says he can't ignore and doesn't want us to either - it was the unexpected enemy of the pandemic: misinformation.

How would Fauci combat that?

"That is not an easy task," he said. "Because the people who are spreading misinformation and disinformation seem to be doing it with an extraordinary amount of energy and purpose. The only way I can see that we counter it is by flooding and flooding the system with correct science-based, evidence-based information...We have to keep our foot to the pedal and press it to the floor when it comes to continuing to give out evidence-based information so people can do the right thing when it comes to public health."

When it comes to if we are ready for another pandemic or a large-scale health crisis in this country, Fauci says scientifically, we were able to demonstrate we can achieve milestones in short periods of time and referenced how quickly the U.S. developed COVID vaccines, but he did mention the U.S. needs to do better when it comes from a public health standpoint.

Fauci insists he is not retiring. Instead, he plans to write and is hoping to have a job where he can mentor young medical professionals and help groom the next generation of public health experts.

This article was written by Nick Ciletti for KNXV.