Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissed as “preposterous” recent accusations from Sen. Ron Johnson that the country’s top infectious disease expert has “overhyped” AIDS and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the Wisconsin Republican said during a Fox News interview that Fauci was “using the exact same playbook” for the pandemic as he did during the AIDS crisis. Johnson said Fauci is “ignoring therapy, pushing a vaccine.”
“He overhyped it. He created all kinds of fear, saying it could affect the entire population when it couldn’t,” Johnson told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade during an interview on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1.
Fauci responded to Johnson's claims during a Sunday morning appearance on CNN’s "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper.
“How do you respond to something as preposterous as that? Overhyping AIDS? It’s killed over 750,000 Americans and 36 million people worldwide,” Fauci said. “How do you overhype that? Overhyping COVID? It’s already killed 780,000 Americans and over 5 million people worldwide. I don’t have any clue of what he’s talking about.”
Tapper pointed out during the interview that former President George W. Bush had awarded Fauci the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work on the AIDS crisis. In 2008, Bush said Fauci had “led the fight against HIV and AIDS.”
Fauci has become a regular target for Republicans, stretching back to his time coordinating with President Donald Trump’s White House to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director has sparred with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., about the origins of COVID-19 and with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, about restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Anthony Fauci: Ron Johnson claim he 'overhyped' AIDS is 'preposterous'