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'Show me a school that I shut down … I never did': Fauci denies responsibility for COVID lockdowns, school closures

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

In an interview published Tuesday by the New York Times magazine, Dr. Anthony Fauci insisted that he was not responsible for the country's response to COVID, including the economic lockdown and school closures.

Fauci claimed he became the "personification" of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations.

"When people say, 'Fauci shut down the economy' — it wasn't Fauci," he stated when asked by interviewer David Wallace-Wells about the government's "heavy-handed" response to COVID.

"But show me a school that I shut down and show me a factory that I shut down," Fauci continued. "Never. I never did. I gave a public health recommendation that echoed the CDC's recommendation, and people made a decision based on that. But I never criticized the people who had to make the decisions one way or the other."

Fauci repeatedly defended the CDC's handling of the virus while noting that the response could have been better.

The recently retired National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director admitted that "something clearly went wrong," but he blamed many of the failures on the "culture war."

"I think anything that instigated or intensified the culture wars just made things worse. And I have to be honest with you, when it comes to masking, I don't know. But I do know that the culture wars have been really, really tough from a public health standpoint," Fauci said.

"Ultimately an epidemiologist sees it as an epidemiological phenomenon," he added. "An economist sees it from an economic standpoint. And I see it from somebody in bed dying."

When challenged on the effectiveness of the mask mandate, Fauci admitted that "masks work at the margins – maybe 10 percent," with the exception of KN95 and N95 masks, which he stated are effective at preventing the spread of viruses.

Wallace-Wells questioned Fauci about the origins of COVID and whether he believed the virus leaked from the Wuhan lab or was the result of a natural occurrence.

"I feel that until you have a definitive proof of one or the other, it is essential to have an open mind. And I have been this way from the very beginning, David, notwithstanding the criticisms to the contrary," Fauci claimed.

When pressed on his role in the funding of the Wuhan lab, Fauci denied the possibility that the virus was engineered.

"We know that there was a lot of other work being done in Wuhan," Wallace-Wells stated. "And if I were you, and I was going to sleep every night thinking that there was even some very small chance that the virus came from a laboratory doing the kinds of research that I had helped promote and fund over the last few decades, I think that might weigh on me a bit, even if I was absolutely sure I had done everything I had done with the best intentions."

"Well, I sleep fine. I sleep fine," Fauci replied. "And remember, this work was done in order to be able to help prepare us for the next outbreak. This work was not conceived by me as I was having my omelet in the morning."

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