Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, batted down claims comparing the novel coronavirus to HIV made on Fox News by host Laura Ingraham, saying diseases like COVID-19 are “entirely different” and making such connections was a “little bit misleading.”
Ingraham asked Fauci — one of the leaders of the White House task force on the pandemic — about the timeline for a coronavirus vaccine during her show on Thursday, saying other diseases, such as SARS and HIV, didn’t have vaccines either, but “life did go on.” President Donald Trump is pushing for parts of the country to reopen, but medical experts have warned doing so too early could kickstart the spread of the disease once again after many states have urged residents to stay at home and practice social distancing.
“The idea that we are definitely going to have a vaccine, we didn’t really approach much else in the same way as we are pegging going back to normal with a vaccine. Did we?” Ingraham asked.
Fauci, who has worked on responses on epidemics for several presidents, took umbrage with the comparison, telling the host the coronavirus was a different beast entirely and was “unprecedented” in its rate of transmission.
“We don’t have a vaccine for HIV/AIDS, but we have spectacularly effective treatment,” he said. “People who invariably would have died years ago right now are leading essentially normal lives. SARS is a different story. SARS disappeared.”
He went on to say that the world was working on a SARS vaccine before the disease stopped spreading but noted it ultimately infected about 8,100 people, far less than the new coronavirus. More than 662,000 people in the U.S. have been infected with the new coronavirus and more than 33,000 have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
“I think it’s a little bit misleading maybe to compare what we are going through now with HIV or SARS,” he added, “they’re really different.”
Ingraham continued to press Fauci about SARS, asking if that disease disappeared, “this could as well, correct?”
“You know, anything could, Laura, but I have to tell you the degree of efficiency of transmissibility of this is really unprecedented in anything that I’ve seen,” he said. “It’s an extraordinarily efficient virus in transmitting from one person to another.”
“Those kind of viruses don’t just disappear.”
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