Donald Trump’s former trade advisor Peter Navarro has unleashed a wild attack on COVID expert Anthony Fauci, labeling him: ‘The father of the virus’.
Navarro made the outlandish claim after being shown an interview with CNN’s chief medical advisor Sanjay Gupta in which Fauci said pushing for the COVID-19 vaccine was the ‘best decision’ he ever made.
Navarro appeared angry that the US Government’s top infectious disease doctor was claiming credit for the success of the vaccine program – dubbed ‘Operation Warp Speed’ – and claimed President Donald Trump had been the driving force behind it.
‘Fauci is a sociopath and a liar. He had nothing to do with the vaccine,’ Navarro told Fox News host Rachel Campos-Duffy.
‘The father of the vaccine is Donald J. Trump.’
In the clip on Fox News, Navarro, with shirt sleeves rolled up and tie loosened, stares and points at the camera as he accuses Fauci of being the ‘father of the virus’
Dr Anthony Fauci said pushing for a COVID-19 vaccine was the ‘best decision’ he had ever made, drawing the bizarre rebuke from Navarro
Navarro, who has made several inflammatory statements about Fauci, was a key figure in the Trump Administration, and a vocal critic of China.
In the Fox News clip, Navarro, with shirt sleeves rolled up and tie loosened, stares and points at the camera as he lambasts Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
‘What is Fauci the father of? Fauci is the father of the actual virus,’ he told the right-wing network.
‘Fauci is the guy. This virus, according to [Robert] Redfield at the Centers for Disease Control, came from the Wuhan lab and basically we had Fauci not only funding that lab with American taxpayer dollars, he authorized this thing called gain of function research.
‘He allowed the Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army to genetically engineer a virus using gain of function.
Donald Trump launched Operation Warp Speed in May 2020, pledging Government support to pharmaceutical companies trying to discover an effective COVID-19 vaccine
‘I call it the Fauci virus now. If he wants to be the father of something, he is the father of the virus that’s killed over half a million Americans.’
Fauci and Dr Deborah Birx were interviewed for a CNN special report on Sunday night called: ‘COVID War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out’.
Fauci said: ‘When I saw what happened in New York City, almost over-running of our healthcare systems, and that’s when it became very clear that the decision we made on January 10 to go all out and develop a vaccine, may have been the best decision that I’ve ever made with regard to intervention as the director of the institute.’
Fauci’s remarks seemed to gloss over the key role played by pharmaceutical companies and Operation Warp Speed – the Trump administration’s program to manufacture, test and deliver vaccines to the public in record time.
Fauci claimed that Trump’s Tweet calling to ‘LIBERATE’ some states to pressure them to reopen during a surge in cases last summer hit him like a ‘punch to the chest’.
In response to the program, Trump issued a statement slamming his former top coronavirus advisors, and describing Fauci and Birx as bumbling failures.
Fauci, he said, ‘tried to take credit for the vaccine, when in fact he said it would take three to five years’.
Trump said it was his decision to begin the vaccine program.
‘We developed American vaccines by an American President in record time, nine months, which is saving the entire world,’ he said.
‘We bought billions of dollars of these vaccines on a calculated bet that they would work, perhaps the most important bet in the history of the world.’
He said: ‘Dr. Fauci was incapable of pressing the FDA to move it through faster. I was the one to get it done, and even the fake news media knows and reports this’.
Trump described Fauci and Birx as ‘two self-promoters trying to reinvent history’
The former president said Fauci was inconsistent, describing him as ‘the king of “flip flops”,’ and denied Birx’s claim that they had a ‘very difficult’ phone call at the start of the pandemic, when she told him how severe a threat the pandemic posed.
‘She was a very negative voice who didn’t have the right answers,’ Trump said.
Last July, Navarro penned an op-ed for USA Today in which he said Fauci had been ‘wrong about everything I have interacted with him on’.
The USA Today editorial board later retracted parts of the column and added a note to the piece saying parts of it were ‘misleading or lacked context’ and ‘did not meet USA TODAY’s fact-checking standards’.
Last year, Fauci revealed he had been forced to take on a security detail after he and his family received hundreds of death threats.
Trump on Monday issued a pointed rebuke to Fauci’s Sunday claim to have been behind the decision to hunt for a vaccine
On the same CNN special, Redfield, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he believed the coronavirus originally escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China.
It is the first time Redfield, who was appointed CDC director by Trump, has stated publicly that he believes COVID-19 originated in a lab and not in a wet market where linked to an initial cluster of cases.
‘I’m of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory… escaped. Other people don’t believe that, that’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out,’ he said.
‘It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in laboratories to infect the laboratory worker.
‘That’s not implying any intentionality. It’s my opinion, right? But I am a virologist. I have spent my life in virology.’
China has strenuously insisted that the pandemic started when COVID-19 jumped from a bat to a human or through an intermediary species at a wet market in Wuhan.
Redfield, however, says that explanation doesn’t make ‘biological sense’ to him.
‘I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human and at that moment in time the virus came to the human, became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity for human-to-human transmission,’ he said.
‘Normally, when a pathogen goes from a zoonotic to human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient.’
A joint World Health Organization-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is ‘extremely unlikely’.