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Fauci on Trump claim that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are 'harmless': 'Obviously not'

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOne dose of Pfizer vaccine offers significant protection for those who have had COVID-19: studies Fauci: Whatever COVID-19 vaccine is available, 'take it' Julia Roberts presents Award of Courage to Fauci: 'You have been a beacon for us' MORE, the nation's top infectious disease expert, in an interview published Friday pushed back on President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE's claim that 99 percent of coronavirus cases are "harmless," saying that it is "obviously not" the case.

“I’m trying to figure out where the president got that number," Fauci told The Financial Times. "What I think happened is that someone told him that the general mortality is about 1 percent. And he interpreted, therefore, that 99 percent is not a problem, when that’s obviously not the case."

Trump earlier this month said that 99 percent of coronavirus cases are "totally harmless," a claim not backed by evidence. Previous estimates from experts have said about 80 percent of coronavirus cases do not require hospitalization and 20 percent do, though there remains uncertainty about how many cases are going undetected.

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The comments come amid growing public distance between Trump and Fauci. Trump has been seeking to downplay the virus, while Fauci and a wide range of other experts have warned of the danger of the worsening outbreaks around the country, which are leading to spikes in hospitalizations in hard-hit states.  

"Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he's made a lot of mistakes," Trump told Fox News host Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityCruz blames criticism of Cancun trip on media 'Trump withdrawal' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Tanden's odds plummet to lead OMB Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE on Thursday evening, saying experts had shifted their advice on masks, for example. 

Fauci told The Financial Times that he had not seen Trump in person since early June.