Anthony Fauci Says It's 'Extraordinary' That COVID Still Seen As 'Fake News'

Dr. Anthony Fauci has said it is extraordinary that some Americans still believe COVID is "fake news" despite overwhelming evidence.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said on Tuesday during an interview for the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit that the U.S. is about to enter a "challenging period" that requires consistent implementation of public health measures, referencing Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

According to Fauci, the consequences of Thanksgiving travel on COVID infection rates are unlikely to be known in the U.S. for at least another week. He expressed alarm that so many people in the country were not grasping the dangers involved.

"Trouble is, you go to different parts of the country and even when an outbreak is clear and hospitals are on the verge of being overrun there are a substantial proportion of people who still think this is not real, that it's fake news or it's a hoax," he said.

"It's extraordinary, I have never really seen anything like this. We have got to overcome that and pull together as a nation... with adhering to public health measures."

The top scientist, who is a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and is expected to serve as an advisor to the Biden administration, said in the interview that a lack of consistent rules across states had been "extraordinarily frustrating."

As the health crisis worsened in recent months, conspiracy theorists suggested without evidence the pandemic was a hoax or part of a plot designed to control the population, some asserting that a potential vaccine would be used to microchip patients. Some conspiracies on social media suggested it was deliberately created as a weapon.

The false claims has been repeatedly disputed by fact-checkers.

The U.S. has the most infections of COVID of any other country in the world, recording more than 15 million cases and at least 286,000 deaths according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which says over 5.7 million U.S. residents have recovered.

But cases are still surging, and the U.S. logged its most ever coronavirus-related deaths over a seven-day period this week. The U.S. is now averaging nearly 200,000 cases every day.

Analysis by the COVID Tracking Project said that states recorded 213,000 new COVID cases and 2,622 deaths on Tuesday, with 104,600 COVID patients in U.S. hospitals.

Our daily update is published. States reported 1.6 million tests, 213k cases, and 2,622 deaths. There are 104,600 COVID-19 patients in US hospitals. pic.twitter.com/EzQsMODdQH

— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) December 9, 2020

Fauci stressed basic health advice—including wearing face coverings, social distancing and washing hands—remained crucial, saying data shows states that implemented such measures were able to either prevent, or lessen, outbreaks of the virus.

He said: "I have had conversations with President-elect Biden. In the future, soon likely, we will be able to discuss in more detail. I will say we need to have a uniform message that comes from the top... we have all got to be on the same page, telling the American public we have got to pull together. That, to me, is the most important thing."

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on June 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. Fauci has said it is extraordinary that some U.S. residents still believe that COVID is “fake news” despite overwhelming evidence. Al Drago - Pool/Getty