Posts tagged with "Dr. Anthony Fauci"

Moderna announces vaccine nearly 95% effective

November 17, 2020

The new vaccine from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna, the biotechnology company, is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, according to a release from the company on November 16—making it the second vaccine to look promising enough to hit the market soon in America, Yahoo reports in an article picked up from the blog, Eat This, Not That.

Last week, New York City-based Pfizer’s vaccine was found to be more than 90% effective.

“This is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement. “Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible. All along, we have known that each day matters.”

Bancel emphasizes, “This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease.”

On hearing the news, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor commented to CNN, “These are obviously very exciting results …. It’s just as good as it gets—94.5% is truly outstanding.”

Regarding the timetable, Fauci said of the Pfizer vaccine the following, which could also apply to Moderna: “What will happen is that,” after the emergency authorization is approved, “at the end of November, the beginning of December, if that goes through—and again, I don’t want to get ahead of the FDA, if they’re going to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s—but I believe with the impressive nature of the data that that should go through smoothly, that by the time we get into December, we’ll be able to have doses available for people who are judged to be at the highest priority to get.”

As for logistics, “about getting the supply chain intact with the cold requirements”—the vaccine needs to be shipped at a certain low temperature—”that’s all been anticipated and part of Operation Warp Speed, particularly on the general, Gus Perna, the general from the army who has been responsible for making sure this goes smoothly. We anticipate, although they’re all logistic challenges that it will be done successfully.”

As for who gets these vaccines first, Fauci said: “What we have well-established in this country is that the ultimate decision of the distribution in priority, or it goes with the CDC, their advisory committee on immunization practices, traditionally over the years for other vaccines has been responsible for advising them as to the prioritization of the distribution.”

Regular folks with no underlying conditions might have theirs by April.

Research contact: @Yahoo

At late-night Miami rally, Trump threatens to boot Fauci ‘after the election’

November 3, 2020

President Trump revealed at a rally early Monday morning that he was leaning toward firing America’s leading infectious disease expert—Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—after Election Day, further escalating the tension as the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States reaches record highs.

His supporters did not seem to have a problem with that plan—chanting, “Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci!” after Trump revealed his intentions. The president listened in silence for a few moments before remarking: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice,” The New York Times reports.

The president spoke well past midnight at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Florida at his fifth and final rally of the day. Indeed, his comments about Dr. Fauci  came toward the end of what was a whirlwind day of campaigning across five states — Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida—nd he spoke even as a local curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus took effect at midnight.

 On Friday, more than 99,000 coronavirus infections were reported across the country, a single-day record. Nonetheless, the Times noted, Trump has maintained without citing evidence that the United States has “turned the corner” in fighting the virus, a point he reiterated at the rally early Monday.

That assertion is strongly disputed by Dr. Fauci, who told the The Washington Post in an interview published on October 31 ththe United States “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” as it heads into at winter. A White House spokesman later called Dr. Fauci’s comments “unacceptable.”

By contrast, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, has said repeatedly that if he were to win the presidency, he is hopeful Dr. Fauci would remain in his role and serve in his administration.

According to the Times, Trump’s quip about Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was part of an hourlong mix of meanspirited jokes, misstatements, hyperbole, self-congratulation, and occasional on-script arguments he made for his re-election.

Mr. Trump has adopted Florida as his home turf, and it is a swing state that he desperately needs to win to open paths to another four-year term. Although he narrowly prevailed there in 2016, polls, including one released November 1 by The New York Times and Siena College, have shown him trailing Mr. Biden in a tight race.

Research contact: @nytimes

With Trump oblivious to COVID crisis, GOP begins to break ranks

July 21, 2020

President Donald Trump continues to press for a quick return to life as usual, but Republicans who fear a rampaging disease and angry voters are increasingly going their own way, The New York Times reports.

Indeed, the Times notes, both the president’s “failure to contain the coronavirus outbreak and his refusal to promote clear public-health guidelines have left many senior Republicans despairing that he will ever play a constructive role in addressing the crisis”—with some concluding that they must work around Trump and ignore or even contradict his pronouncements.

In recent days, some of the most prominent figures in the GOP outside the White House have broken with the Denier-in-Chief over issues like the value of wearing a mask in public.

In addition , they have been acknowledging the importance of heeding the advice of health experts, such as  the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Director Anthony Fauci, M.D., whom the president and other hard-right figures within the Administration have subjected to caustic personal criticism.

According to the Times, they appear to be spurred by several overlapping forces— including deteriorating conditions in their own states, the president’s seeming indifference to the problem; and the approach of a presidential election in which Trump is badly lagging his Democratic challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., in the polls.

Once-reticent Republican governors are now issuing orders on mask-wearing and business restrictions that run counter to the president’s demands. Some of those governors have been holding late-night phone calls among themselves to trade ideas and grievances; they have sought out partners in the administration other than the president, including Vice President Mike Pence, who, despite echoing Trump in public, is seen by governors as far more attentive to the continuing disaster.

 “The president got bored with it,” David Carney, an adviser to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, said of the pandemic. He noted that Abbott, a Republican, directs his requests to Pence, with whom he speaks two to three times a week.

A handful of Republican lawmakers in the Senate have privately pressed the administration to bring back health briefings led by figures like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, who regularly updated the public during the spring until the president  upstaged them with his own briefing-room monologues. And in his home state of Kentucky last week, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, broke with Trump on nearly every major issue related to the virus, the Times reports.

McConnell stressed the importance of mask-wearing, expressed “total” confidence in Dr. Fauci and urged Americans to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Trump has ignored or dismissed.

“The straight talk here that everyone needs to understand is: This is not going away until we get a vaccine,” McConnell said on Wednesday, July 15, contradicting Trump’s rosy predictions that the virus “will just go away.”

The emerging rifts in Trump’s party have been slow to develop, but they have rapidly deepened since a new surge in coronavirus cases began to sweep the country last month.

In the final days of June, the Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, a Republican, joined other governors on a conference call with the vice president  and urged the Administration to do more to combat a sense of “complacency” about the virus. Herbert said it would help states like his own if Trump and Pence were to encourage mask-wearing on a national scale, according to a recording of the call.

“As a responsible citizen, if you care about your neighbor, if you love your neighbor, let us show the respect necessary by wearing a mask,” Mr. Herbert said, offering language

Pence said the suggestion was “duly noted” and said that mask-wearing would be a “very consistent message” from the Administration.

But no such appeal was ever forthcoming from Trump, who asserted afterward that he would never advocate a national policy on mask-wearing or shutdowns.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, rejected criticisms of Trump’s lack of a hands-on approach. “Any suggestion that the president is not working around the clock to protect the health and safety of all Americans, lead the whole-of-government response to this pandemic, including expediting vaccine development, and rebuild our economy is utterly false,” Deere said in a statement.

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump moves to manipulate COVID-19 case data; tells hospitals to bypass CDC and report to HHS

July 16, 2020

The Trump Administration—which has been anything but happy about the rising COVID-19 case numbers nationwide—now is positioning itself to manipulate the data on cases, recoveries, and deaths by having hospitals send it to a third party instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Hospitals will begin sending coronavirus-related information directly to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—not the CDC—under new instructions from Trump. The move will take effect on Wednesday, July 15, according to a new guidance and FAQ document for hospitals and clinical labs quietly posted on the HHS website, according to a report by The Hill.

Previously, hospitals reported to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network, which the agency describes as the nation’s most widely used health care-associated infection tracking system. 

In addition to the number of COVID-19 cases, the CDC tracked such vital information as how many hospital ICU beds are open and the number of ventilators available.

According to HHS, the goal is to streamline data collection, which will be used to inform decisions at the federal level such as allocation of supplies, treatments and other resources, The Hill says.

But the move comes amid concerns that the White House has been sidelining the CDC and after Trump administration officials attacked Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

Research contact: @thehill

‘Of course not’: Fauci says he won’t attend Trump rallies; advises Americans to avoid big crowds

June 18, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—and the top expert on COVID-19 in America— says he would not personally attend any upcoming rallies that President Donald Trump plans to hold for his 2020 re-election campaign because the coronavirus is still spreading.

“I’m in a high-risk category. Personally, I would not. Of course not,” Fauci, who’s 79, said in an interview with The Daily Beast on Tuesday, June 16.

He added about Trump campaign rallies, “outside is better than inside, no crowd is better than crowd” and “crowd is better than big crowd.”

Trump is scheduled to host his first campaign rally in months on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, inside of the city’s BOK Center, which can hold more than 19,000 people, NBC News reports. The president claimed on Monday, June 15, that 1 million people had requested tickets to the event.

Senior officials said Monday that hand sanitizer and face masks will be offered to all attendees, although they are not required to use them. They also will have their temperatures taken before entering the arena.

Some Tulsa officials have been warning Trump that the rally could worsen a current spike in coronavirus cases and local newspaper, NBC notes. Tulsa World published an editorial titled, “This is the wrong time and Tulsa is the wrong place for the Trump rally.”

Meanwhile, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, is expected to visit the White House this week, ahead of the rally, to discuss reopening the economy.

Conversely, Dr. Fauci told The Daily Beast that he’s still worried about the uptick in COVID-19 cases in some states across the country. “We are seeing infections to a greater degree than they had previously seen in certain states, including states in the southwest and in the south,” he said.

A key member of the president’s coronavirus task force, Fauci also said in an interview Tuesday with NPR’s “1A” on WAMU in Washington, D.C., that he hasn’t spoken with Trump in two weeks. He said that he spoke with him “two weeks ago” and the conversation was about “vaccine development efforts.”

Asked for a response to Fauci’s latest interviews, the White House defended the current phased reopenings that it has been pushing without addressing Fauci directly.

“As the president has said, the cure cannot be worse than the disease and that is why all 50 states have begun the process of a phased reopening,” said White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere. “As this continues, the American people will use what they have learned about COVID-19 and take the appropriate precautions, such as social distancing, facial coverings, and regularly washing hands, to protect the public health and return us to a growing economy.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Dr. Fauci re-emerges from media blackout; says we’ll be ‘seeing more’ of him

May 25, 2020

He’s back! After a deafening silence that persisted for more than two weeks, top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci re-emerged on the national stage on Thursday, May 21—appearing on CNN’s coronavirus town hall to mark his first major television interview since May 4.

While Fauci has recently been on a “modified quarantine” due to possible exposure to the White House staffers who have tested positive for COVID-19, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) chief has continued to participate in the White House coronavirus task force and testified before the Senate last week via remote, The Daily Beast reported.

Fauci, who has been targeted by pro-Trump figures after appearing to contradict some of the president’s comments on the virus, has been conspicuously absent from TV as the White House pushes for a robust reopening of the economy, as CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported earlier this week. Other public health experts on the task force, such as Dr. Deborah Birx, also have been been noticeably absent.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper immediately greeted Dr. Fauci on Thursday night by asking why the American public has heard so little from the task force and medical experts in recent weeks.

“And if they aren’t going to have daily briefings about facts and science, can you or the NIH or can the CDC have their own daily briefings with top scientists? There are a lot of Americans out there who still want to hear from scientists every day,” Cooper added.

“That’s a good point,” Fauci reacted. “I think you’re probably going to be seeing a little bit more of me and my colleagues. There was a period of time, there was a little bit of a lull of our being out there with the press.”

“I believe that’s going to change. We’ve been talking with the communications people and they realize we need to get some of this information out, particularly some of the scientific issues for which I’m predominantly responsible for. So hopefully we’ll be seeing more of us,” he continued.

The Daily Beast noted, Fauci would go on to say that the task force has “changed a bit” and that he’s in a subgroup with other public health leaders “talking about some of the scientific issues.” He further noted that the task force as a whole is more focused on reopening the economy and the economic impact of the pandemic.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Governors call Trump’s testing claims ‘delusional’ and ‘absolutely false’

April 21, 2020

Although President Donald Trump is pushing to “reopen” parts of the country by May 1, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), along with the leaders of six other states and the District of Columbia, already have extended their COVID-19 lockdowns through May 15.

What’s more, several governors are not mincing words about their opinion of the president’s decision, The Huffington Post reports.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D)—who has extended the lockdown for his state’s residents to June 10 and has instructed non-essential business to remain closed at least through May 8—on Sunday told CNN’s Jake Tapper it was “delusional” for President Donald Trump to claim the U.S. currently has the testing capacity needed for states to relax social distancing measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Maryland’s Republican leader, Governor Larry Hogan, told Tapper that Trump’s claim “is just absolutely false.” “It’s not accurate to say there’s plenty of testing out there and the governors should just get it done,” Hogan said. “That’s just not being straightforward … Every governor in America has been pushing and fighting and clawing to get more tests.”

Hogan added, “Look, we have increased our testing in Maryland by 5,000% over the past month, but it’s nowhere near where it needs to be.”

And they are not alone: Multiple health officials in the Trump administration have cautioned against setting May 1 as a target date to loosen social distancing guidelines, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said last week that the U.S. has not yet developed the testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the economy.

But that hasn’t stopped the president. On Saturday, echoing comments Vice President Mike Pence made a day prior, Trump claimed “experts” had said that “America’s testing capability and capacity is fully sufficient to begin opening up the country totally.”

Indeed, The Huffington Post reports, Trump has taken an adversarial stance toward a number of governors as states struggle to overcome nationwide test shortages. The Trump Administration has tried to cobble together a belated response to the pandemic and has faced criticism after initially calling concerns about the coronavirus a “hoax” and downplaying its impact.

In recent weeks, Trump has used language that appears aimed at shifting responsibility for the economic recovery from the administration to individual states.

“People’s initial reaction is always to look to the president, but as time goes on and it becomes clear other states are doing other things, that blame and credit will shift to the governors, considering they are the ones making the calls,” one Trump political adviser told Politico.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Trump berates Fauci for criticism of slow virus response

April 14, 2020

In his efforts to reframe the story of how he responded—late and less than adequately—to the looming COVID-19 crisis, President Donald Trump has collided fast and hard with the truth , as told by the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.

The doctor said again last week that more lives could have been saved if the country had been shut down earlier—sending Trump into a Twitter rant, The New York Times reported.

Frustrated by Dr. Fauci’s reluctance to toe the party line, Trump reposted a Twitter message that said “Time to #FireFauci” as he rejected criticism of his slow initial response to the pandemic that has now killed more than 22,000 people in the United States. The president privately has been irritated at times with Dr. Fauci, but the Twitter post was the most explicit he has been in letting that show publicly the news outlet said.

The message that the president retweeted came from a former Republican congressional candidate whom Trump had suported. “Fauci is now saying that had Trump listened to the medical experts earlier he could’ve saved more lives,” said the tweet by DeAnna Lorraine, who got less than 2% of the vote in an open primary against Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month. “Fauci was telling people on February 29 that there was nothing to worry about and it posed no threat to the US at large. Time to #Fire Fauci.”

In reposting the message, Trump added: “Sorry Fake News, it’s all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up.”

The Times pointed out that the tweet came amid a flurry of messages blasted out by the president on Sunday, April 12, defending his handling of the coronavirus, which has come under sharp criticism, and pointing the finger instead at China, the World Health Organization, President Barack Obama, the nation’s governors, Congress, Democrats generally and the news media.

In truth, Trump did not “ban China,” but he did block foreign nationals who had been in China in the past 14 days from coming into the United States,  starting on February 2. Despite the policy, 40,000 Americans and other authorized travelers have still come into the country from China since then.

Dr. Fauci and other public health experts were initially skeptical that the China travel restrictions would be useful when the president was first considering them, but then changed their minds and told Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of Health and Human Services, on the morning of January 30 that they supported them.

The president has repeatedly pointed back to those travel limits to defend his handling of the pandemic, but experts have said the limits were useful mainly to buy time that the administration did not then use to ramp up widespread testing and impose social distancing policies before infections could begin growing exponentially.

By the third week of February, advisers had drafted a list of measures they believed would soon be necessary, like school closures, sports and concert cancellations and stay-at-home orders, but the president did not embrace them until mid-March.

Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, said on Sunday that earlier imposition of such policies would have made a difference.

“I mean, obviously, you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives,” he said on “State of the Union” on CNN. “Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those kinds of decisions is complicated. But you’re right. Obviously, if we had, right from the very beginning, shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down.”

Dr. Fauci has become a celebrated figure among much of the public, which trusts him far more than Mr. Trump, according to polls. A Quinnipiac University survey last week found that 78% of Americans approved of Dr. Fauci’s handling of the crisis compared with 46% who approved of the president’s response. 

Research contact: @nytimes

NYT: President Trump has ‘financial interest’ in hydroxychloroquine manufacturer

April 8, 2020

For days, rumors have been rampant on social media—speculating that President Donald Trump is recommending (nay, hyping) the use of hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure for COVID-19 because he has invested in the company that manufactures the drug. Now, The New York Times confirms the scuttlebutt.

In fact, the Times reports, the president has a “small financial interest” in the maker of the anti-malarial drug that he has been touting as a “game changer” in treating coronavirus.

The news outlet notes that the president’s family trusts all have investments in a mutual fund whose largest holding is Sanofi, the Paris, France-based manufacturer of Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine.

Associates of the president, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, also have run funds that hold investments in the pharmaceutical firm.

Thus, it is a little less confounding that, over the past two weeks, Trump and his Fox News allies have aggressively promoted hydroxychloroquine as a potential coronavirus cure—despite strong pushback from top infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and others urging caution and noting that there currently is not enough evidence of the drug’s efficacy.

A case in point: President Trump made a rare appearance in the Situation Room on Sunday, April 5, as his pandemic task force was meeting, determined to talk about the anti-malaria medicine that he has aggressively promoted lately as a treatment for the coronavirus.

Once again, according to a person briefed on the session, the experts warned against overselling a drug yet to be proved a safe remedy, particularly for heart patients. “Yes, the heart stuff,” Trump acknowledged. Then he headed out to the cameras to promote it anyway. “So what do I know?” he conceded to reporters at his daily briefing. “I’m not a doctor. But I have common sense.”

Again and again, the president has made a passing reference to the dangerous side effects of the unproven drug, followed by a full-throated endorsement. “What do you have to lose?” he asked five times on Sunday.

Along the way, he has prompted an international debate about a drug that many doctors in New York and elsewhere have been trying on patients in desperation— even without conclusive scientific studies.

But Trump continues to push, the Times reports: At his briefing after the meeting, he said it was wrong to wait for the kind of study Dr. Fauci wanted. “We don’t have time,” the president said. “We don’t have two hours because there are people dying right now.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Poll: Fauci and Cuomo are the most trusted leaders on COVID-19 in America right now. Trump is not.

March 31, 2020

Americans say they have the most trust in Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York when it comes to official information and guidance on the COVID-19 outbreak, a new Business Insider poll shows.

Insider asked, “When it comes to the official advice regarding coronavirus, please rate how much you trust the following messengers on a scale of 1 to 5.”

Using that measure, 1 means strongly distrust; 2, somewhat distrust; 3, neither trust nor distrust; 4, somewhat trust; and 5, strongly trust. Participants were asked to mark “NA,” if they were unfamiliar with the person.

Fauci and Cuomo received the highest marks; with President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin receiving the lowest:

  • Respondents gave Dr. Fauci an average score of 3.84 out of 5 for trustworthiness. Fully 40% gave him a top score of 5, which is nearly double the next highest-rated person, and,all told, 86% gave him a 3 or higher, which is vastly higher than anyone else.
  • Cuomo received an average score of 3.2 9 out of 5. Three-quarters (75%) of respondents gave Cuomo a score of 3 or higher, and 22% gave him 5 out of 5.
  • Global Health Ambassador Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus task force response coordinator, got a score of 3.14 out of 5. About three in four respondents gave Birx a score of three or higher.
  • Governor Gavin Newsom of California got an average score of 2.97 out of 5. Just shy of 70% of people gave Newsom a score of 3 or higher.
  • Former Vice President and likely 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden got an average score of 2.76 out of 5. About 31% of respondents rated Biden a 4 or 5; 27%, a 3 of 5; and 42%, a 1 or 2.
  • Vice President Mike Pence was rated a 2.65 out of 5 on average for trustworthiness. About 33% of respondents rated him a 1.
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar was rated 2.62 out of 5.
  • President Donald Trump was scored 2.56 out of 5 on average. Fully 44% of respondents rate Trump a 1 out of 5; compared to 20%, who rated him a 5 out of 5. The largest group of people—55%—rated Trump as a 1 or 2.
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin got the lowest score out of the 10 officials; rating 2.52 out of 5, on average.

According to Business Insider, Fauci’s blunt explanation of the strict scientific facts, calm but no-nonsense demeanor, and subtle sense of humor both in White House briefings and congressional hearings have received rave reviews from the public and made him a household name.

And while Cuomo was previously considered a somewhat divisive figure in New York politics best-known for his incessant feuding with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, respondents felt he’s risen to the occasion during the current crisis.

As the governor of one of the hardest-hit states, Cuomo has been rewarded for massively expanding New York’s testing capacity, aggressively combating the virus with business closures and social distancing, and his daily PowerPoint pep talks to New Yorkers in his press conferences. 

The poll was conducted on behalf of Business Insider by SurveyMonkey. A total of 1,136 respondents were collected on March 25.

Research contact: @businessinsider