Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto asked White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday if he regrets “shutting down” the U.S. economy.
Cavuto questioned Fauci over his past decisions regarding COVID-19 protocols, including masks and shutting down the economy and asked if he had any regrets.
“No, I don’t,” Fauci said. “In fact, I think we need to make sure that your listeners understand [that] I didn’t shut down anything. There was a lot of consideration among the White House Task Force that we were reaching the point where the hospitals, such as in New York City and other places, were being strained to the point of practically being overwhelmed. When Dr. [Deborah] Birx and I came with the proposal that we take 15 days to essentially get to the point where we slow if not shut some things down, not completely, then the record will show, Neil, that we didn’t recommend shutting everything down. We wanted a pause to flatten the curve.”
“But in retrospect, doctor, do you regret that it went too far, whatever your original intentions were?” Cavuto asked. “It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback here but that it went too far, particularly for kids who couldn’t go to school, except remotely, that it will forever damage them.”
Fauci said the lockdowns have not “irreparably damaged” anyone, then argued that he pushed for opening up schools as soon as possible.
His response prompted Cavuto to ask whether he would recommend another shutdown if another pandemic hit. Fauci replied that one must learn from past mistakes and criticized those who refused or were skeptical of getting vaccinated.
“If you look at things we may not have done perfectly or even not done well, you go back and you try to learn from that. Maybe people can learn that if they encouraged people to get vaccinated, we may not have had so many deaths. So I think the people who criticized me should talk about their own reluctance to promote vaccination. That’s the point I would make in rebut of that.”
Fauci pushed back against Cavuto citing reports that some states without strict lockdown protocols, including Florida, fared better than those imposing restrictions. (RELATED: New Study Shows Blue States Handled COVID ‘Poorly On Every Measure’)
“You know, I really question those data,” Fauci said. “I’m sorry, there are many people who statistically looked at those data and disagreed with that because when you look at lockdowns, there are so many other things that go along with that and there’s been a lot of pushback on that type of a conclusion.”
The host turned to the origins of the virus, where he pressed Fauci on whether his stance was “ill-placed.” The senior medical adviser said he has always said that he will “keep an open mind” on the origins and that data shows the virus likely stemmed from a natural occurrence.
He added that the National Institute of Health (NIH) funded a “very small” sum of $120,000 a year towards surveillance studies in China when Cavuto questioned him on gain-of-function research. Fauci concluded that it was “molecularly impossible” for the viruses to have turned into COVID-19, accidentally or purposefully.