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

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 Ex-Trump doctor turned GOP lawmaker wants Biden to take cognitive test White House officials won't say if US will meet July vaccine goal MORE, the nation's top infectious disease expert, in an interview published Friday pushed back on President TrumpDonald TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC 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 HannityBook claims Trump believed Democrats would replace Biden with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama in 2020 election 9 Republicans not named Trump who could run in 2024 Fox Nation to stream primetime Fox News shows in full 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.