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Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Delta variant's UK dominance sparks concerns in US Overnight Health Care: FDA says millions of J&J doses from troubled plant must be thrown out | WHO warns Africa falling far behind in vaccinations | Top CDC official says US not ready for next pandemic MORE on Thursday said it has been “liberating” to work as the nation's top infectious diseases doctor under President Biden after his experience working for former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE.

Speaking at the White House press briefing, Fauci was asked if he feels "less constrained" in the new administration after clashing with Trump and eventually being sidelined last year.

“I can tell you I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president, so it was really something that you didn’t feel you could actually say something and there wouldn’t be any repercussions about it,” he said. “The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence and science is, and know that’s it — let the science speak — it is somewhat of a liberating feeling.”

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Fauci became a national star as a public spokesman for the Trump administration’s coronavirus response.

But he eventually ran crossways with Trump, who often downplayed the virus and made unsupported claims about “miracle” drugs such as hydroxychloroquine. Trump at one point said he was taking the medication to prevent COVID-19.

“It was very clear that there were things that were said regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that, that was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact,” Fauci said.

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He said his willingness to break with Trump is “why I got in trouble sometimes,” but he does not have the same fears about working for Biden.

"One of the things that was very clear as recently as about 15 minutes ago when I was with the president, is that one of the things we’re going to do is be completely transparent open and honest. If things go wrong, not point fingers but correct them, and to make everything we do be based on science and evidence. That was literally a conversation I had 15 minutes ago with the president, and he has said that multiple times,” he said.

Still, Fauci said the Trump administration had made some good headway in distributing coronavirus vaccine doses, disputing a CNN report that the Biden administration was starting over from square one.

"We certainly are not starting from scratch," Fauci said.

"We're coming in with fresh ideas, but also some ideas that were not bad ideas with the previous administration. You can't say it was absolutely not usable at all," he added. 

"It's taking what's going on, but amplifying it in a big way."