Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that if he could change anything about his response to the coronavirus pandemic, he would have recommended that the government impose "much, much more stringent restrictions" during the spring of 2020.
On Monday's edition of Rising, Fauci told hosts Robby Soave and Batya Ungar-Sargon that if he "knew in 2020 what I know now, we would do a lot differently."
"The insidious nature of spread in the community would have been much more of an alarm, and there would have been much, much more stringent restrictions in the sense of very, very heavy encouragement of people to wear masks, physical distancing, what have you," continued Fauci.
In February 2020, Fauci opined that "whenever you have the threat of a transmissible infection, there are varying degrees from understandable to outlandish extrapolations of fear," calling the risk to Americans "minuscule."
He also said that only those who were already infected with the disease should wear masks, before adding that "if you look at the masks that you buy in a drug store, the leakage around that doesn't really do much to protect you."
While Fauci later changed his tune, becoming a passionate advocate of masking, he admitted on Monday that "you've got to get a well-fitted mask that is of a high quality. And the two we know are high quality are N95 and KN95."
According to Fauci, Americans in high-transmission areas should still wear masks in "schools, places of worship, anything that brings people together in a closed environment."
Certain jurisdictions, including Los Angeles, are considering resuming indoor mask mandates due to high local transmission rates.
During the interview, Fauci also took issue with a question about "gain-of-function" research, which involves making viruses more transmissible and/or deadly in an effort to prepare for and prevent possible outbreaks.
Fauci, a longtime advocate of such research, has come under fire from congressional Republicans for supporting the U.S. funding of dangerous virology research in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began. Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) has repeatedly taken Fauci to task for his refusal to acknowledge that U.S.-funded research may have played a role in the outbreak. Paul pledged to launch an investigation into Fauci's handling of the pandemic should Republicans retake the Senate in November.
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