By Nikhila Natarajan
New York, Oct 24 (IANS) US president Donald Trump and his top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci have not met in “several months” and White House virus task force meetings have been reduced to once a week, according to new revelations into the inner workings of a disastrous coronavirus response in the world’s wealthiest country.
The US recorded 71,671 new cases Thursday, with several states setting records across the Midwest and West. This is the single highest daily tally since the pandemic began. Texas leads with maximum new cases. The seven-day rolling average for new daily Covid-19 cases in the US was 44,647 two weeks ago.
The virus has killed more than 223,000 people in the US and sickened more than 8 million.
Less than 24 hours after the final presidential debate on October 22, US President Donald Trump was back at the White House holding a mini superspreader event while the country’s top infectious diseases expert is urging the government to see the logic of a “golden mean” that factors common sense public health guidelines to reopen the economy. Trump had 30 people huddled around him in the Oval Office on Friday and only one woman in that group was wearing a mask.
“Every time I talk about these things, people get concerned about shutting down. We’re not talking about shutting down, but we’re talking about doubling down on some of the fundamental public health measures that we need to adhere to – the universal wearing of masks,” Fauci said during a television interview on Friday.
During the same interview, Fauci revealed that Trump hasn’t attended a coronavirus task force meeting for months.
Days ahead of the US 2020 election, the coronavirus pandemic continues to haunt incumbent Donald Trump both in debates and his poll numbers. He trails Biden in both national and battleground polling.
In recent days, Trump has called Fauci and his ilk “idiots” and claimed that Americans are tired of “Covid, Covid, Covid” all the time.
Trump has mocked Biden for wearing masks and for adhering to public health guidance. “We can’t live like that,” Trump has said often, and continues to hold superspreader rallies and aggressively push the idea of herd immunity.
Fauci has pinned America’s failure to contain the virus on the lack of a uniform guidance from the top, without mentioning Trump. “I’ve always felt that uniformity of response and consistency of response is always a good thing. People know where they stand, know what they need to do and it was certain fundamental things that have not been adhered to consistently,” he said on Friday.
In the US, at least 5 vaccine candidates are in Phase 3 trials. The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is among several leading candidates in final testing. Two studies which started trials on July 27 are fully enrolled and ready to start collecting data.
Fauci said we’ll likely know about vaccine efficacy and safety latest by early December and that vaccine doses will be made and ready to go by the end of the year for frontline workers and the most vulnerable. The vaccine will be available widely only by the summer of 2021, according to US public health officials.