Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a gathering of students and experts at Georgetown University Medical Center in January 2017 that the incoming Trump administration would face a “surprise outbreak” of a new disease and the United States needed to prepare for it.
“If there’s one message that I want to leave with you today based on my experience, is that there is no question that there will be a challenge to the coming administration in the arena of infectious diseases,” Fauci said.
“The history of the last 32 years that I’ve been the director of NIAID will tell the next administration that there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that they will be faced with the challenges that their predecessors were faced with.”
He added, “We will definitely get surprised in the next few years.”
Fauci made his comments during the keynote address at “Pandemic Preparedness in the Next U.S. Presidential Administration,” where he and other global health leaders encouraged the Trump administration to plan for an outbreak.
“If you think about all the things that could very quickly devastate a population, devastate a country, pandemics is really near if not at the top of that list,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, according to Georgetown University Medical Center.
According to the health experts, an administration should prepare for pandemic response by improving global health-surveillance systems, investing in research and creating emergency funds.
Fauci pointed to his experience with the Zika virus during the Obama administration as an example of why emergency funds are needed.
“We need [a public health emergency fund] because of what we had to go through for Zika,” he said.
“I mean, it was very, very painful when the president asked for the $1.9 billion in February and we didn’t get it until September. That was a very painful process.”
Fauci also used his experience with the emergence of HIV and AIDS in 1981 as an example of a subtle outbreak that people don’t notice at first.
“There is outbreaks that are very profound, acute and dramatic — like Ebola, like what we’ve seen with Zika,” he said.
“And then there are outbreaks that may be really subtle. They’re happening and you’re not necessarily noticing them.”
Even though many people have argued that the Trump administration did not heed experts’ warnings and prepare appropriately for the coronavirus outbreak, President Donald Trump has denied the allegations.
“We were very prepared. The only thing we weren’t prepared for was the media. The media has not treated it fairly,” Trump said in a March 19 news conference.
“I’ll tell you how prepared I was: I called for a ban from people coming in from China long before anybody thought it was — in fact, it was [NBC News] — I believe they called me a racist because I did that. It was — many of the people in the room, they called me racist and other words because I did that, because I went so early.”
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