Fauci Deplores 'Horrifying' Moment at CPAC When Crowd Applauded Anti-Vaccine Speech

The federal government's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, expressed deep disappointment at conservative writer Alex Berenson's remarks at the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC) this weekend that accused Fauci and others of trying to coerce Americans into getting the the COVID-19 vaccine.

"They were hoping, the federal government was hoping, they could sucker 90 percent of the population into getting vaccinated," Berenson said at CPAC, eliciting uproarious applause from the conservative audience.

CNN host Jake Tapper asked Fauci to respond to the conservative crowd cheering on Berenson's remarks during Sunday morning's State of the Union program. Berenson's comments tapped into the opposition to government public health officials that was apparent under former President Donald Trump.

"He just goes on to say things that are not true about the vaccine, but I want to get your reaction to is the crowd cheering when this gentleman [Berenson] talks about how the government was not able to achieve a 90 percent vaccine rate. The crowd cheered. As a public health official, what's your reaction watching that?" Tapper asked Fauci.

"It's horrifying. I mean, they are cheering about someone saying that it's a good thing for people not to try and save their lives," Fauci said of the CPAC moment which occurred Saturday.

"I mean, if you just unpack that for a second, Jake, it's almost frightening to say, hey, guess what, we don't want you to do something to save your life," Fauci continued. "Yes. Everybody starts screaming and clapping. I just don't get that. I mean, and I don't think that anybody who is thinking clearly can get that. What is that all about? I don't understand that, Jake."

Fauci was the target of numerous criticisms and mocking remarks at CPAC, with many attendees at least partially blaming the coronavirus pandemic for Trump's loss against President Joe Biden last year. Several speakers including Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., accused Fauci of being incapable of doing his job.

"[The press said] Fauci is something other than a bureaucrat in a lab coat. Yeah," Trump Jr. said at CPAC on Saturday, drawing laughter from the conservative audience. "Fauci is better at pitching baseballs than he is at science, okay? Also true. I want to see them fact check that one, they have no chance."

Fauci in June was tied to numerous leaked emails to other public health officials in the federal government, exacerbating claims among pro-Trump critics that he was working against the former president during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fauci and top CDC officials have vehemently denied these accusations.

Newsweek reached out out to Fauci's office at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for any additional remarks.

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The federal government's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, expressed deep disappointment Sunday at conservative writer Alex Berenson's remarks at CPAC that accused Fauci and others of trying to coerce Americans into getting the the COVID-19 vaccine. Jeenah Moon/Getty Images