Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday confirmed the U.S. remains one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Unfortunately for the United States we have been hit more hard than virtually any other country on the planet,” he said during a presentation he made at the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s virtual conference.
Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, noted there have been roughly 8.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and 218,986 deaths. He also cited statistics that indicate there are 40.5 million coronavirus cases around the world and 1,121,251 deaths from the pandemic.
Fauci said the coronavirus pandemic is the world’s deadliest pandemic since the so-called Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.
“As of two days ago, the numbers have been stunning,” said Fauci, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci on Wednesday had been scheduled to hold a virtual press briefing, but the Infections Diseases Society of America less than two hours before it was scheduled to take place announced it had been cancelled because of “scheduling conflicts.” Fauci on Wednesday is among those who are scheduled to participate in the U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS’ closing plenary.
The virtual conferences are taking place against the backdrop of widespread criticism over the White House’s response to the pandemic.
President Trump, who announced on Oct. 3 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, is once again appearing at public events without wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. Trump on Monday, among other things, described Fauci as a “disaster” during a conference call with re-election campaign staffers.
Racism is a ‘public health challenge’
Fauci has previously said it remains unclear whether people with HIV are more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Fauci on Wednesday noted the pandemic continues to disproportionately impact Black people, Latinos and Native Americans because of socio-economic disparities and a lack of access to health care. Fauci has also noted people with HIV who have underlying health conditions could be more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
The U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS, which had been scheduled to take place in Puerto Rico, on Monday opened with an acknowledgment of the Black Lives Matter movement and transgender women who have been killed in the U.S. Paul Kawata, executive director of the National Minority AIDS Council, which organizes the conference, in a video he recorded at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool said NMAC “wanted to talk about how we believe that racism is a public health challenge.”
“We wanted to stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter,” said Kawata. “At the end of the day this meeting and our struggle must stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter because it is the only way we are going to end the AIDS epidemic.”