LISTEN: Dr. Fauci brushes off Trump’s comments, quotes "The Godfather:" "Nothing personal, strictly business"

Dr. Fauci talks eventual vaccine and adhering to public health measures in fight against virus

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joins KNX In-Depth Monday - on the same day President Donald Trump strongly criticized him and called him a “disaster.”

He says he would prefer not to comment on the president’s quotes.

He called “all that other stuff” a “distraction.”

“I would prefer not to comment on that and just get on with what we are really trying to do and what we are trying to do is to protect the health and welfare and safety of the American people predominantly, and ultimately, of the world. We are seeing an uptick in cases - higher than they’ve ever been. Many, many states that had been doing reasonably well are now showing upticks, that’s what we should be concentrating on,” Fauci said.

The pandemic has already claimed almost 220,000 lives and the case rate has surpassed 8 million positive cases in the United States - all grim milestones.

Fauci says people need to adhere to universal health measures - something he has been calling on Americans to do since the pandemic began. He also warned of the coming colder months amid the pandemic.

“But in many sections of the country as we get into the cooler weather of the fall and the colder weather of the winter we will be challenged because many things, out of necessity, will have to be done indoors,” Fauci said adding people need to adhere to the health measures like wearing masks, keeping distance, avoiding crowds especially indoors and doing more things outdoors.

“We can turn around these surges, we can’t throw up our hands. I’m not talking about shutting down the country, that's not what I’m talking about,” he said. “Whenever I talk about public health measures, people sometimes interpret that as my being insensitive to the difficulties.”

Fauci said there is a “fatigue of COVID” in this country. He also addressed a viable vaccine for the virus by year’s end.

“People are really fatigued by this,” he said adding “This will end. We will put this behind us with a combination of a vaccine, which I truly believe since I’m deeply involved in the development and testing of vaccines, that by the end of this year, we likely will have a vaccine that will be safe and effective that will help greatly at alleviating the stresses that have been put upon us.”

Fauci stressed he did not want to get involved in a “me against the President” because the dialogue distracts people from the important things.

“The important things are being able to open the economy, get people back to work but doing it in the context and the setting of prudent and careful health measures. That’s the message I keep drilling at and I hope it gets through more and more because I’m not talking about shutting down the country but using public health measures as a vehicle, a gateway, a roadway,” he said

“We are headed, if things don’t turn around and change, as we get into the cool months of the fall and cold months of the winter, we may be headed into some serious issues and we really want to avoid that,” Fauci said.

Fauci says he focuses totally on the health and welfare of the people of this country.

“That’s the only thing I really care about. That other stuff, it’s like in “The Godfather:” nothing personal, strictly business as far as I’m concerned. I just want to do my job and take care of the people of this country,” Fauci said.

He also spoke about an eventual vaccine and its effectiveness.

“I’d love it if we had a 98 percent effective vaccine. Let’s say we get a 75 percent effective vaccine. We really need to get a lot of people to take the vaccine. And even if they do, it’s not going to be like a light switch that you turn on and off. We still are going to practice prudent and careful public health measures,” he said. “It will be a gradual re-entry into normality. It will not be overnight.”

In the past few weeks Fauci has come out against herd immunity and a 30-second campaign ad from Trump’s team that shows unauthorized comments from him that make it appear he’s addressing how Trump has handled the pandemic.

Fauci has said backing herd immunity — the idea that a disease will stop spreading once nearly everybody has contracted it — is “total nonsense,” according to an Associated Press story earlier this month.

Fauci has also said he isn’t surprised that Trump tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month after the president and other top officials participated in a September White House event that was largely packed with no social distancing or masks.

“I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask,” Fauci said earlier today in an AP story.