Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted Monday the Chinese coronavirus caught him by surprise, and was “much worse” than he could have ever imagined.
Speaking at the White House, Fauci said it was “a virus that was much worse than I thought it was going to be based on what we learned early on.”
Fauci reflected that initially he believed the coronavirus jumped from an animal to a human and did not have much of a capability to a human to human spread.
“Then all of a sudden you find out that not only was it animal to human, that’s probably the way it started,” he said.
Politico’s Ryan Lizza asked Fauci during the White House press briefing to look back and think about what future administrations could learn from the crisis.
Fauci admitted that perhaps he could have studied the virus more closely to understand the threat that it posed to the United States. But, he clarified, he was working with imperfect data.
“The information wasn’t as forthcoming as I would have liked,” he said, hinting that China misled the world about the nature of the virus.
It was a rare moment of reflection and humility for Fauci, who Democrats and establishment media figures have lionized as a heroic medical scientist telling hard truths to political and economic leaders, reluctant to shut down the economy.White House
But Fauci admitted that even he was caught by surprise by the virus, calling it his “worst nightmare.”
“Then all of a sudden when you find out, that you’re dealing with something that is not only had been your worst nightmare … a brand new virus, that’s respiratory transmitted, that has a high degree of transmissibility, that has a high degree of morbidity and mortality,” he said.
Fauci said he believed that “nothing is perfect” during what he described as the “fog of war” of the administration working to fight the spread of the virus.
“I’m not sure it was a mistake, it was just an evolving thing that we finally realized and said ‘Whoa!’ this is really worse than we could have imagined,” he said.
Earlier in April, Dr. Deborah Birx also shared a moment of reflection on how the virus caught global health experts by surprise.
“I will remind you that on February 3, the head of the WHO said there was no reason to ever do a travel ban,” she said. “It wasn’t until January 14 that we know that there was human to human transmission.”
The World Health Organization finally declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11.