In recent days, President Donald Trump has placed blame on his predecessor, Barack Obama, for the lack of testing and an effective vaccine against the novel coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of Trump's coronavirus task force and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, refuted that claim.
On Tuesday, Fauci appeared before the Senate for a health committee meeting, which was held remotely as Fauci and others practice social distancing measures. As a video on NBC of the conference shows, the doctor was questioned by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney over whether or not the previous administration holds any responsibility for the fact a vaccine doesn't exist yet.
"The President said the other day that President Obama is responsible for lack of vaccine. Dr. Fauci, is President Obama - or by extension President Trump - did they do something that made the likelihood of creating the vaccine less likely?" Romney asked.
Fauci refuted the claim that either man was to be blamed for not currently having a vaccine and cheered the speed with which scientists and researchers have rallied together to create an inoculation that could help put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"No, Senator, not at all. Certainly, [neither] President Obama nor President Trump are responsible for not having a vaccine. We moved, as you said, rather rapidly. No one has ever gone from knowing what the virus was to a phase one trial as fast as we've done. So I don't think that's something that one should say anybody's responsible for doing anything wrong."Romney then expressed that he was "surprised" that the president had targeted his predecessor for the current lack of a vaccine and thanked the respected immunologist for his response.
The senator then asked whether a vaccine was likely to be developed at all. The World Health Organization recently warned that not all diseases can be vaccinated against. HIV, for instance, has resisted all attempts to develop an effective vaccine.Fauci assured Romney that it is more likely than not that people will have an effective inoculation for the virus in the future, though he confirmed that there is no guarantee.
Trump has increased his criticism of Obama in recent days, with several attacks through social media and at a recent press conference. His comments come after Obama was revealed via leaked audio to have criticized the job that the Trump administration is doing during the coronavirus crisis.