(The Hill) — Anthony Fauci, who on Monday announced that he is leaving the Biden administration, pushed back on conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic hours later, calling the claims “a distortion of reality.”
“What we’re dealing with now is just a distortion of reality, conspiracy theories which don’t make any sense at all pushing back on sound public health measures, making it look like trying to save lives is encroaching on people’s freedom,” Fauci said on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
False claims and criticisms, particularly about the origins of the COVID-19 virus, Fauci said, “impeded a proper response to a public health challenge” and continue to interfere with addressing public health issues.
Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser and the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), was a leader in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the MSNBC interview, he pushed back on the theories and the personal attacks against him.
“It’s a complete distortion of reality, I mean, a world where untruths have almost become normalized, how we can see something in front of our very eyes and deny it’s happening,” Fauci said.
“I mean, that’s the environment we’re living in. You could look at January 6 on TV, and you have some people who actually don’t believe it happened. How could that possibly be? And it’s now spilling over in denial about public health principles.”
The announcement that he’ll leave the administration in December for his “next chapter” after decades in government has drawn a surge of Republican lawmakers saying they’ll keep investigating Fauci even after he steps down.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted that “[Fauci] will be asked to testify under oath regarding any discussions he participated in concerning the lab leak,” referring to theories that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China.
Fauci also told Maddow that community input and pressure was constructive as the government dealt with HIV/AIDS, but that current COVID-19 criticisms are counterproductive.
Fauci said it’s possible that “the better angels in our society prevail,” but called the ongoing theories “very troublesome.”