On Monday, former President Donald Trump lashed out at Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx in response to a CNN documentary that aired the night before. Fauci and Birx played crucial roles in the Trump administration when the coronavirus crisis hit the United States last year. In the CNN documentary, both Fauci and Birx were critical of the Trump administration’s response and management of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Trump released a long-winded, almost vitriolic response to both, calling them “two self-promoters trying to reinvent history to cover for their bad instincts and faulty recommendations”. The President went on to criticize Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, claiming that they would have “left our country open to China and others, closed to reopening our economy, and years away from an approved vaccine,” Experts agree that these claims are unfair and not rooted in fact.
In the documentary, Fauci had said that the decision to develop a vaccine immediately was one of the best decisions he made. He explained how his role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases gave him access to resources that allowed the institute’s vaccine research center to develop a key component of the ultimately successful shots from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.
Trump, irked by this framing, took the credit for the vaccines saying, “I was the one to get it done, and even the fake news media knows and reports this,” He also falsely stated that the vaccines were “American vaccines,” while in truth, the first FDA-approved vaccine authorized by the U.S. was developed by Turkish immigrants who founded BioNTech in Germany. BioNTech collaborated with Pfizer to manufacture vaccines for the American market and Pfizer has not received development money from the government.
Trump engaged in similarly mud-slinging when he spoke of Dr. Birx. In the CNN documentary, Birx criticized the President’s inconsistent messaging which often ran counter to policy decisions. Trump responded by calling her “terrible medical advisor”. Former White House officials have said that Trump’s statements are unfounded and amount to revisionist history on the part of the former President.