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Health officials have struggled to convey the seriousness of Covid-19 to many Americans. President Trump’s rapid recovery from the disease, while welcome by all, makes the challenge even more difficult, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases acknowledged.

Trump’s quick bounce-back from his infection will likely underscore the mistaken belief some people have that the disease does not present significant health risks, Fauci said in an interview with STAT.

“We’re all glad that the president of the United States did not suffer any significant consequences of it,” Fauci said. “But … because he is such a visible figure, it amplifies some of that misunderstanding that people have that it’s a benign disease and nobody has anything to worry about.”

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The wide range of clinical manifestations of the disease — some people experience no symptoms, while others have everything from flu-like symptoms to life-threatening and even fatal pneumonia and blood clots — makes conveying the dangerousness of Covid-19 incredibly challenging, he said.

“It’s just a lot of understandable mixed signals, that it’s either serious or it’s not serious. It’s deadly or it’s not deadly. To me, that’s been the bane of trying to get a message across to people,” he said.

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“It’s a problem that goes well beyond the president’s illness.”

Trump, who was considered at high risk of having severe Covid-19 because of his age, weight, and sex, was hospitalized for four days earlier this month after testing positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19. First lady Melania Trump also tested positive for the virus; White House doctors described her case as milder than the president’s. She did not need to be hospitalized.

The president required supplemental oxygen on at least two occasions before he was taken by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 2. In the four days he was there, Trump was treated with an experimental antibody cocktail, the antiviral drug remdesivir, and the steroid dexamethasone.

He has since resumed work, holding a rally Monday in Florida where he declared himself to be immune to Covid-19, and heading to Iowa, a Covid-19 hot spot, on Wednesday. He has also tweeted that people should not let fear of the disease run their lives, asserting that he feels better now than he did 20 years ago.

Trump also continues to insist the virus will soon disappear, even though daily infection numbers are climbing in most parts of the country. So far in the pandemic, more than 7.8 million Americans have been infected and more than 215,000 have died.

Since movement restrictions were eased in the summer, many cases have occurred in young adults, a demographic group that rarely dies from the disease. Fauci and others have struggled to find a way to persuade people in this demographic that their behavior has a broader impact on communities.

“It’s just something that I’ve been struggling with for some time in messaging, when you try to get to young people and you tell them, ‘Wear a mask, avoid crowds.’ And they say, ‘Well, what’s the difference if I get infected? The overwhelming likelihood is that I’m not going to get seriously impacted. So, who cares?’” he said.

“And what they don’t grasp is that by getting infected, they’re propagating the outbreak. And by propagating the outbreak sooner or later a vulnerable person is going to get infected,” Fauci said. “It is a big deal.”

  • Trump had the best medical care in the world. Medication not available to anybody else. Easy for him to tell everyone “not to fear”. Ridiculous and shameful. He could have easily been 1 of these 215,000.

  • I respect Dr. Fauci, but I fear his paradigm is wrong in multiple ways, and I am interested in hearing from anyone who has thoughts on it.
    1. Some time in spring, we should have gone with a plan to get unemployed people 18 to 30 in something like a Civilian Conservation Corps, and, for those with no idenfiable risk, gotten them to infect each other. We could get pretty good herd immunity that way, if the Corps was huge.
    2. Should have gone with isolation for people at high risk, which would mean, generally, no younger than 50, including not going to work, but let those from 18 to 50 just go to work normally – obviously, they need to be screened for risk to those they live with – but for most people 18 to 50 the risk is low, and the harm done by lockdowns was obviously great, though, in my opinion, it has been much worse than anticipated (I count riots)
    3. Human Challenge Vaccine testing would have been great. If you look at the animal testing papers, it appears there were effective vaccines back in May. “Safe” ? I do not know. But they worked with test animals. They prevented infection.

    I see the medical establishment, embodied in Dr. Fauci more than anyone, after all he is the NAIAD head and the most prominent infectious disease specialist in the media – as being way too conservative – the human challenge testing was really a no brainer – I know, they hoped to keep the death toll much lower than it is, – but risking a few thousand people to potentially end the lockdowns much sooner was the best bet.
    Trump et al did not help, because instead of forcing the overly cautious medical establishment to take some rational chances, it became just a temper tantrum against lockdowns (maybe rational) and then masks themselves.
    I think we would have been a lot better served with one side or the other in control.

  • I think the president has not shown the U.S. citizens how dangerous this infection is. He does not wear a mask which shows everyone that you don’t need to wear a mask. He is who everyone looks to everyday so he should be showing us by example. Which leads me to believe he really does not care about the American people.

  • Dr. Fascinating is a man of science and yet he does not use statistics. The statistics for Children and young adults getting very sick or dying are extremely low. Their friends and parents are not in age categories that are statistically vulnerable to getting very sick or dying. Dr. Fauci has got to recognize that we Americans are intelligent & wise, and understand that we must isolate our selves from the elderly, the most vulnerable among us.

    • They treat us like ignorant children.

      I have been screaming into the wind for six months to protect elderly and immune compromised, while the rest of us go back to normal.

      But, politics rules, and if Orange Man say it, it must be wrong, even when it is correct.

      Schools are still shut down in many places, for example.

  • I’m not a Trump supporter, but if I was him, I would make a commitment to improve the Healthcare System in the U.S., to fend off COVID-19 and other horrible, medical conditions. If he was to make that announcement, showing compassion, he could possibly change the outcome of this election which is clearly heading towards the “democratic” supporters. Good luck Trump

    • Are you living under a rock Margaret? Do you really think the election will go to the Socalist Democratic party? Most of us are smarter than that! You may want to live under Socialism but I’m willing to guess that the majority of people want their freedoms.

    • 42% of American Adults are obese.

      Canada has socialized medicine and has the same rates of obesity and illnesses.

      When does personal responsibility come into play? Or, is it all up to The Government to make us healthy, wealthy, and wise?

  • “All Lives Matter”, which includes Trump. Though I’m concerned about his ability to lead a country during these very difficult times.

    • Well “all lives” don’t matter until Black lives do honey, bless your sweet little heart.

  • Your article on Fauci just confirms he would rather have people scared and locked down in there homes which is scarier than covid.

    • Indeed! Fauci continues to ignore t cell immunity studies, Gumpert curves, and so on.

      Trump was correct six months ago. This is a very bad flu season.

      And I know the data, the CDC figures, on infection mortality rates by age, etc.

      Sad that so many of us went along with the fear and hysteria. Shameful that too few had the courage to ignore fear and let reason prevail.

      Our nation is doomed.

  • Unrealistic, kind of physiologically impossible recoveries can happen when you have never actually been infected.
    Just a cover up to justify the use of unapproved drugs. Like the antibody injection, and possibly even a vaccine injection as well

    • Yes, considering the open willingness to lie about anything and everything, why should we so naively assume that the diagnosis was true? They haven’t exactly been transparent with releasing medical records, etc. Instead of stating that the president had COVID-19, we should be saying that the president “claims to have had COVID-19”. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but let’s not make the mistake of trusting and taking at face value everything he says. Don’t forget he was one of the first to say this virus is a “big hoax”.

  • Unbelievable…instead of realizing we are on the verge of highly successful therapeutic treatments (witness Trump’s recovery) people seem duty bound to continue to live in fear. Disgraceful

    • Talk to someone who has access to the top “civilian” medical services and yet has long-term sequelae from Covid-19. Talk to someone who lost a family member or friend. It’s living “in caution”, living with compassion. What’s disgraceful is to expose OTHER people to illness and death because you don’t want to wear a mask, don’t want to social distance.

    • really shameful! They forced him to use an antibody injection with a market value of $150k, instead of using that cheap wonder drug HCQ touted by the greatest president ever! The deep state is everywhere!
      Ignorance, and delusion, really is bliss

    • I understand people disliking Trump, but the apparent miracle treatment from Regeneron seems like big news, and the fact the case fatality rate from the disease is way down seems like big news. The fact the young kids would not be confined and went out and infected each other, which Fauci et al are so upset about (I respect Fauci a great deal but I think his paradigm is wrong) seems to also be good news, we should have encouraged it IMO.
      There is massive good news and the media is trying it’s best to avoid telling it, because they want Trump out of office.

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