US President Donald Trump on Monday called his government’s top public health expert Anthony Fauci “a disaster”, claiming that “people are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots” speaking about measures against Covid-19, The Guardian reported.

Trump and Fauci have been at loggerheads for some time now and the president’s latest attack came after Fauci said he was not surprised that Trump had contracted the infection, as he was holding events with “minimal social distancing and use of masks”.

“I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask,” Fauci said in an interview to CBS, published on Monday. Referring to a White House event, following which Trump tested positive for the virus, Fauci called it a “super spreader event”.

At least 11 people including the president contracted the virus after an event was held on September 26 to mark the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

During the interview, Fauci also said that the White House had been controlling his media appearances. “I certainly have not been allowed to go on many, many, many shows that have asked for me,” he said.

He further claimed that he had received death threats since the start of the pandemic and that his family members had been harassed.

Rift between Trump and Fauci

Fauci, who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has often fallen out of favour with the US president with regard to the handling of the coronavirus crisis. The disputes between the two reached a point where “chances of Trump firing Fauci” were reported to have been “ever-present”, according to The Guardian.

On Monday, too, Trump said: “Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him.” He also claimed that the death toll would have been “as high as 8,00,000” if he had followed Fauci’s advice.

Last week, the Trump campaign used comments from Fauci in an advertisement that praised Trump’s pandemic response. The doctor protested, saying the ad “clearly implies strongly that I’m endorsing a political candidate, and I have not given them my permission to do that”.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post on Monday reported that White House coronavirus taskforce members led by Deborah Birx had sought the firing of Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist, who according to the paper, has “consolidated his power over the government’s pandemic response”.

Over the weekend, Twitter removed one of Atlas’ tweet saying masks did not work to combat the virus.

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