Washington, July 14 (IANS) America's top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci has said the US was witnessing the new surge in the number of COVID-19 cases was because the country never shut down entirely.
“We did not shut down entirely,” Xinhua news agency quoted Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as saying during a webinar with the Stanford School of Medicine on Monday.
“We need to draw back a few yards and say, ‘OK, we can't stay shut down forever'… You've got to shut down but then you've got to gradually open,” he said.
Fauci said the US has not “even begun to see the end” of the coronavirus pandemic yet as scientists continue to work on potential drugs and vaccines for the virus, according to the report.
The top infectious diseases expert said he is “cautiously optimistic” scientists will be able to create at least one safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year or early 2021.
Meanwhile, The White House has turned on Fauci, spraying into public view a longlist of “mistakes” he has made since the COVID-19 pandemic began and seeking to undercut his reputation as a trusted voice on public health and exit strategy during a pandemic that has killed over 135,000 Americans.
As cases were surging to record levels across the southern US states, the White House is questioning the “number of times Fauci has been wrong on things”, using long-ago comments from Fauci on the threat level from the virus and the use of masks.
The White House West Wing has taken control of Fauci's media appearances from the US government platform and effectively banished him to the podcast and livestream circuit.
In a live stream event on July 7, Fauci warned against a “false narrative” of a falling COVID-19-related death rate even as Trump continued to tout alleged progress the US had made in tackling the COVID-19 outbreak by citing a falling US mortality rate.
In another interview with The Hill news website on July 9, Fauci said that hard-hit US states should pause moving forward with reopening their economies.
The same day in a podcast, he said that US partisanship has made the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic harder, while acknowledging the country has performed poorly in the battle against the health crisis.
Fauci's latest statement came as the US currently accounted for the world's highest number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities at 3,363,056 and 135,605, respectively.