Fauci says he never imagined Covid would kill a million Americans

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing about the federal response to monkeypox, on Capitol Hill September 14, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday reflected on the U.S. response to the Covid-19 pandemic in what was likely his last public briefing as the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

Nearly three years after Covid-19 first arrived on America’s shores, Fauci said he never imagined the pandemic would last so long and take so many lives.

“I did not imagine and I don’t think any of my colleagues imagined that we would see a three-year saga of suffering and death and a million Americans losing their lives,” Fauci, 81, told reporters during a Covid update at the White House.

Fauci is stepping down in December as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases after nearly 40 years at the helm and as White House chief medical advisor.

He said the most disturbing feature of Covid was the evolution of multiple variants, which upended the U.S. response to the pandemic several times.

And Fauci said that one of the most difficult parts of the pandemic for him was the politicization of public health under the Trump administration.

Noting that many people have refused to get the Covid vaccine for ideological reasons, Fauci said, “As a physician, it pains me because I don’t want to see anybody get infected, I don’t want to see anybody hospitalized and I don’t want to see anybody die from Covid.”

“Whether you’re a far-right Republican or a far-left Democrat, it doesn’t make any difference to me,” he said. “I look upon it the same way as I did in the emergency room in middle New York City when I was taking care of everybody who was coming in off the street.”

He called on Americans to get a Covid booster to protect their health ahead of another expected surge of infection this winter as people travel and gather for the holidays.

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

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