U.S.

How private comments stack up against public words

Emails sent by Dr. Anthony Fauci in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic offer a glimpse into how the nation’s top infectious disease expert communicated with senior U.S. officials and his overseas counterparts as events unfolded at a rapid pace.

On some issues, such as mask wearing and whether he was being muzzled by the Trump administration, Fauci’s comments evolved over time, according to a USA TODAY review of the hundreds of documents, first obtained by The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News through the Freedom of Information Act.

In the early days, Fauci said both publicly and privately that not everyone needed to wear a mask. Later, he emailed that new information indicated that “perhaps universal wearing of masks in (sic) the most practical way to go.” Soon after, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines, recommending the voluntary use of face masks.

There were also instances when what Fauci wrote privately synched with his public comments – and times when it didn’t.

In an email exchange with the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Fauci struck a collegial tone. “We’ll get through this together,” he wrote in response to the Chinese official’s concern that he’d offended Fauci by being quoted in a news article faulting the U.S. handling of the pandemic.

Publicly, though, Fauci was critical – though polite – that the Chinese had not been forthcoming when the virus first emerged.

“Early on we did not get correct information and the incorrect information was propagated right from the beginning,” he said in an April 2020 interview with Fox News.

On hydroxycholorquine, the anti-malaria drug that former President Donald Trump touted as a treatment for COVID-19, Fauci’s private emails were in line with his public statements. Fauci was initially interested in the potential but always hedged that more data was needed.

And on some issues, particularly the origins of COVID-19, it’s impossible to tell what Fauci thought. He didn’t offer an opinion when emailed in February by a professor concerned that the virus could have leaked from a Chinese laboratory. He did respond to a note from the head of the National Institutes for Health who had passed along a news article about the lab leak theory under the subject line “conspiracy gains momentum.” But Fauci’s response was redacted before the email was released to the media.

Origin of COVID-19

Exchange with George Gao, head of the Chinese CDC

Censorship from White House

Masks

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine

Here’s what we learned from Fauci’s emails during the early days of the COVID pandemic

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails revealed his thoughts from April 2020. Here’s what they tell us about the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

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