US President Donald Trump has said a sobering warning by his top infectious diseases expert about lifting pandemic restrictions too soon was unacceptable.
He accused Dr Anthony Fauci of wanting "to play all sides of the equation" in his testimony to lawmakers on Tuesday.
The president said he was especially dissatisfied with Dr Fauci's caution around reopening schools too quickly.
Covid-19 has infected nearly 1.4 million people in the US and killed 84,000, while ravaging the economy.
What did the US president say? Speaking on Wednesday at the White House, Mr Trump took issue with Dr Fauci's comments to a Senate hearing a day earlier about the risks to children of reopening and his assessment that a vaccine was unlikely before classes could begin this autumn.
"Look, he wants to play all sides of the equation," Mr Trump said of his top coronavirus expert's concerns.
"I was surprised by his answer actually, because, you know, it's just to me - it's not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools," the president told reporters.
He said "the only thing that would be acceptable" is giving older teachers and professors a few more weeks before they return.
"Because this is a disease that attacks age, and it attacks health," the president said.
President Trump’s infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday called the coronavirus his “worst nightmare” and warned that the fight against its spread is far from over.
The bleak outlook from Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, comes as the US continues to slowly reopen from lockdown while grappling with massive protests in cities over the police killing of George Floyd.
“In a period of four months, it has devastated the whole world,” Fauci said during a virtual appearance at a conference held by Biotechnology Innovation Organization. “And it isn’t over yet.”
Fauci added that there is still a world of uncertainty around the virus and how it spreads and impacts the body. He said COVID-19 is much more complex than HIV, a virus he spent his career studying, because of the varying levels of seriousness in infections — from asymptomatic carriers to patients who develop fatal conditions.
“Oh my goodness,” Fauci added. “Where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of really understanding.”
Fauci said vaccines will be the only way to stop the spread of the coronavirus though he did express confidence that an antidote is in the works.
The National Institutes of Health abruptly cut off funding to a long-standing, well-regarded research project on bat coronaviruses only after the White House specifically told it to do so, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci made the revelation Tuesday at a Congressional hearing on the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by a coronavirus that is genetically linked to those found in bats. Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) asked Fauci why the NIH abruptly canceled funding for the project, which specifically worked to understand the risk of bat coronaviruses jumping to humans and causing devastating disease.
Fauci responded to Veasey saying: “It was cancelled because the NIH was told to cancel it.”
“And why were they told to cancel it?” Veasey pressed.
“I don’t know the reason, but we were told to cancel it,” Fauci said.
After the hearing, Fauci clarified to Politico that it was the White House that told the NIH to cancel the funding. An unnamed White House official told Politico that the White House did encourage the funding cut, but ultimately it was the Department of Health and Human Services—of which the NIH is a part—that made the final decision. An HHS spokesperson said only that the funding was cut because "the grantee was not in compliance with NIH's grant policy."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, CDC Director Robert Redfield and other top health officials testify before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to discuss the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic.