The Association of American Medical Colleges released a statement Monday in support of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who’s come under fire by the White House for his dire warnings about the United States’ surging coronavirus case counts.
“The AAMC is extremely concerned and alarmed by efforts to discredit Anthony Fauci, MD, our nation’s top infectious disease expert,” the letter said. “Dr. Fauci has been an independent and outspoken voice for truth as the nation has struggled to fight the coronavirus pandemic.”
The letter follows White House statements to media outlets on Sunday attempting to discredit Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and was a fixture of the once-regular coronavirus task force briefings.
“Several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things,” an unnamed official told The Washington Post and NBC News. The statement included a long list of comments from Fauci earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic when little was known about how the virus spread. At the time, Fauci doubted that asymptomatic people played a significant role in spreading infections; he has since emphasized there’s clear evidence they do.
Cherry-picking statements from early in the pandemic is a dangerous game to play, the AAMC said Monday.
“Taking quotes from Dr. Fauci out of context to discredit his scientific knowledge and judgment will do tremendous harm to our nation’s efforts to get the virus under control, restore our economy, and return us to a more normal way of life,” the letter read.
Fauci has recently ramped up his warnings about the dangerous situation the U.S. is in under President Donald Trump’s leadership.
“As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say we’re doing great. I mean, we’re just not,” Fauci told FiveThirtyEight’s “Podcast-19.”
Prior to the White House’s latest statement, Trump was already undercutting Fauci.
“You know, Dr. Fauci said, ‘Don’t wear masks,’ and now he says wear them,” Trump said an interview last week with Greta Van Susteren. “And you know, he’s said numerous things; ‘Don’t close off China. Don’t ban China.’ And I did it anyway. I sort of didn’t listen to my experts, and I banned China.”
The president has repeatedly dismissed the threat of COVID-19, which has killed more than 135,000 people in the U.S., and has pushed states to reopen their economies. The AAMC pointedly warned about ignoring “science and facts” on Monday.
“As we are seeing from the surge in COVID-19 cases in areas that have reopened, science and facts — not wishful thinking or politics — must guide America’s response to this pandemic,” the letter said. “This does not mean that scientific knowledge and recommendations will not change as our understanding of the virus grows.”
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.