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Fauci at his first Biden briefing: I had no pleasure in contradicting Trump on Covid

White House Health Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said he had "had no pleasure" in contradicting former President Donald Trump on the Covid-19 pandemic and felt more liberated to be able to discuss science without facing the new administration.

"The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what evidence, what the science is and what it is – let the science do the talking. It's a liberating feeling," Fauci said on Thursday at his first press conference in the White House for months.

Fauci, now advising President Joe Biden, said he took no pleasure in contradicting Trump, who often made false claims about the severity of the pandemic as well as drugs designed to fight it.

"It was very clear that there were things that were being said, be it about things like hydroxychloroquine and other things that were really [uncomfortable] because they weren't based on scientific facts," Fauci said. "I can tell you, I take absolutely no pleasure in contradicting the president, so it really was something that you didn't feel like you could actually say and it would have no effect on it."

He said it was "a feeling of liberation" to talk about science and "that's it".

During the pandemic, Trump repeatedly criticized the government's top coronavirus advisor, and even suggested firing him. Meanwhile, Fauci has questioned a number of Trump's comments, including his repeated claims that the US fight against the virus "is turning around" when tens of thousands of people were actually infected every day.

Fauci didn't attack his former boss as subtly when asked how the pandemic might have developed differently if a team like Biden's had been deployed from the start. "One of the things we're going to do is be completely transparent, open and honest," said Fauci. "When something goes wrong, don't point your fingers, but correct it and make everything we do based on science and evidence."

Fauci said he discussed these exact priorities with Biden about 15 minutes before entering the meeting room.

In contrast, Trump had consistently downplayed the threat posed by the virus. He regularly denied any criticism of his administration's approach to the pandemic, claiming that the US, which has the highest Covid death toll of any country in the world, responded to the virus better than almost any other nation. While Fauci and Trump's coronavirus task force held daily briefings at the start of the outbreak, those regular updates were eventually dropped after Trump asked scientists if they could inject disinfectant or light into the body to kill the virus.

Thursday's press conference came after Fauci told the World Health Organization earlier in the day that the U.S. would remain a member of the international agency under Biden. In May, Trump announced the US would leave the WHO, but the process shouldn't be completed until July.

Fauci said the Biden administration plans to work with the other 193 member states to "strengthen and reform" the United Nations health agency.

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