Fauci testifies on Trump's coronavirus response

By Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 2:08 PM ET, Tue May 12, 2020
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1:46 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

4 key takeaways from Fauci's testimony on Trump's coronavirus response

Win McNamee/Pool/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, alongside three other health experts, testified in front of a Senate Committee today on the Trump administration's coronavirus response.

If you're just now reading in, here are the top lines from Fauci's testimony:

  • On reopening: Fauci said there could be "really serious" consequences if states and areas reopen prematurely.
  • A possible second wave: While the coronavirus will not simply "disappear" this fall, Fauci said the threat of a possible second wave can be mitigated by aggressive testing efforts and health-care preparedness. He said that second wave is "entirely conceivable and possible."
  • More deaths than reported: Fauci said many experts believe more people have died from coronavirus than have been reported. He said he's not sure "exactly what percent higher" the real death toll could be. "But almost certainly it’s higher," he added.
  • Children with Covid-19: Fauci warned against believing children are immune to coronavirus, citing new cases where some children have developed a mysterious inflammatory syndrome that could be linked to the virus.
1:54 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci says coronavirus vaccine trials will be representative of minority populations

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Senators listen to Fauci's testimony. From left are Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Mike Braun and Rand Paul.
Senators listen to Fauci's testimony. From left are Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Mike Braun and Rand Paul. Win McNamee/Pool/AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci assured senators today that coronavirus vaccine trials are designed to represent minority and at-risk populations.

He said representative trials help determine how effective a vaccine is and what the potential side effects are.

“In the design of our clinical trials and the sites that we’ve chosen in our clinical trial network is going to be very representative of being able to get minority populations and populations at most risk to be part of the trial so we know during the trial what the relative efficacy as well as potential adverse events,” Fauci said during his testimony.

He said the process was started back during the HIV crisis, “when we tried to get good demographic representation and we’re going to do that with these trials.”

1:38 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

The Senate hearing is over

Win McNamee/Pool/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Pool/Getty Images

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions' hearing on the US's coronavirus response just wrapped up.

The senators heard testimony from four key witnesses: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Brett Giroir, with the US Department of Health and Human Services; and Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

Fauci does not have “total control” yet of the coronavirus pandemic and warned that reopening too soon could lead to "serious" consequences.

1:33 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci: "There is certainly not a confrontational relationship between me and the President"


Dr. Anthony Fauci said he does not have a "confrontational relationship" with President Trump.

Here's how Fauci responded when he was asked by GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler if he had such a relationship with the President:

"There is certainly not a confrontational relationship between me and the President. As I've mentioned many times, I give advice and opinion based evidence-based scientific information. He hears that. He respects it. He gets opinions from variety of other people. But in no way, in my experience over the last several months, has there been any confrontational relationship between us."

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn also said they did not have confrontational relationships with Trump.

1:15 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Romney says he was "surprised" Trump blamed Obama for a lack of vaccine


Neither President Trump nor his predecessor President Obama are responsible for the lack of a coronavirus vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

He was responding to GOP Sen. Mitt Romney's question about President Trump's recent suggestion that Obama was responsible for the lack of a vaccine.

"The President said the other day that President Obama is responsible for lack of vaccine. Dr. Fauci, is President Obama — or by extension President Trump — did they do something that made the likelihood of creating the vaccine less likely?" Romney asked.

"Certainly President Obama nor President Trump are not responsible for not having a vaccine," Fauci said.

He added that the US has moved "rapidly" from discovering the virus to having trials for vaccines.

Romney then added that he was "surprised" by Trump's suggestion.

"That was my impression. I was surprised by the comment," he said.

1:03 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci says there is a "moral responsibility" to protect essential workers, like those in meat plants

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Anthony Fauci gave his “common-sense guidance” when Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith asked about reopening meat plants and expressed her concerns over deaths and infections there. 

“When you’re calling upon people to perform essential services, you really have almost a moral responsibility to make sure they are well-taken care of and protected," he said.

“It would seem that if you want to keep things like packing plants open, that you really got to provide the optimum degree of protection for the workers involved, the ability to allow them to go to work safely, and if and when individuals get infected, to immediately be able to get them out and give them the proper care,” Fauci said. 

“That's not an official proclamation, that's just me speaking as a physician and as a human being,” he added. 

In late April, President Trump signed an executive order under the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open during the coronavirus pandemic.

12:55 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

A senator asked Fauci how he's holding up. "I'm doing fine," he said.


Sen. Tina Smith, a Democrat from Minnesota, started her five minutes of questions with a simple one for Dr. Anthony Fauci.

"How are you doing and how are you holding up?" she asked him.

"I'm doing fine, senator, thank you very much for asking," he said.

Fauci continued:

"This is, this is such an important problem. It transcends all of us individually, and we have to be working as a team. And I enjoy very much working with your senators and the governors, because it's at the local level that we're going make it work. So I am fine. I appreciate your concern."


12:48 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci says school reopenings will vary by region

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Win McNamee/Pool/AP
Win McNamee/Pool/AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who sits on the White House coronavirus task force, said there is no “easy answer” to how students go back to school.

“We have a very large country and the dynamics of the outbreak are different in different regions of the country,” Fauci told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. “So I would imagine that situations regarding school will be very different in one region versus another, so that it's not going to be universally or homogeneous.”

Fauci was asked about the risk-benefit ratio between sending kids back to school and having them miss out on education.

“It’s obviously very difficult," he said. "The unintended consequences of trying to do something that broadly is important for the public health and the risk of having a return or a resurgence of an outbreak and the unintended deleterious consequences of having children at a school."

“I don't have a good explanation or solution for the problem of what happens when you close schools and it triggers a cascade of events," Fauci added. 

12:32 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci: More deaths on the horizon without an "adequate" response by fall

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt


Dr. Anthony Fauci said the United States does not have “total control” yet of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“If you think that we have it completely under control, we don’t,” he told Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the Senate hearing on the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus. 

“If you look at the dynamics of the outbreak, we are seeing a diminution of hospitalizations and infections in some places — such as in New York City, which has plateaued and is starting to come down — but in other parts of the country, we are seeing spikes,” he said. 

Fauci said the coronavirus curve looks flat right now.  

“I think we’re going in the right direction, but the right direction does not mean we have, by any means, total control of this outbreak,” he said. 

Fauci again said that if there is not an “adequate” response by the US in the fall, more infections and deaths are on the horizon. 

“We run the risk of having a resurgence. I would hope by that point in time in the fall that we have more than enough to respond adequately, but if we don't, there will be problem,” he said.