Anthony Fauci Shuts Down Fox News For Comparing Coronavirus To AIDS

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attends the daily coronavirus task force briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Anthony Fauci appeared on Fox News on Thursday to discuss the coronavirus and the need for an effective vaccine before the country should consider reopening. During the interview, host Laura Ingraham pressed Fauci, saying the world went on without a vaccine for AIDS or SARS as an argument that the country could ease social isolation recommendations for COVID-19.

As HuffPost reports, Fauci was quick to correct her statement, calling the idea that the diseases were comparable “misleading.”

Ingraham started her question by saying there is no vaccine for SARS or for HIV.

“So the idea that we’re definitely going to have a vaccine — we didn’t really approach much else in the same way, as we’re pegging going back to normal with a vaccine, did we?” Ingraham asked.

Fauci, a respected immunologist and member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, found the comparison inaccurate.

“Well, no, but Laura, this is different,” he replied.

“We don’t have a vaccine for HIV/AIDS, but we have spectacularly effective treatment. People who invariably would have died years ago, right now are leading essentially normal lives,” he said.

He then went on to address SARS, the respiratory illness that began in China in 2002 and rapidly spread worldwide. It faded out in 2004 after 8,100 people were infected with the disease.

“We developed a vaccine, we were in the process of going through the various phases, we showed it was safe, we showed it induced a good response,” he said, adding the disease then disappeared, negating the need for the medical community to continue testing the vaccine.

The suggestion that the coronavirus is like the seasonal flu, AIDS, or SARS has become a common talking point among some who are arguing the U.S. should reopen sooner rather than later.

Trump has expressed the desire to ease social distancing regulations as soon as possible, but — in an about-face from his previous stance — he has said he will leave the decision up to the states to determine when to lift the restrictions they had put into place.

So far, the coronavirus has infected more than 662,000 people in the United States and more than 33,000 have died from the disease.

Ingraham then asked if the novel coronavirus could fade away, as SARS did. Fauci pointed out that — while SARS did disappear — COVID-19 is a different type of disease. He said it wasn’t likely to go away because its rate of transmission is “unprecedented.” He did add that anything is possible, however.