WASHINGTON D.C.: During his final White House briefing this week, U.S. health official Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was both celebrated and vilified as the face of the country's COVID-19 pandemic response, denounced political division regarding COVID-19 vaccines and strongly encouraged Americans to get their vaccine and booster shots.
Fauci plans to retire soon as President Joe Biden's top U.S. infectious disease expert. His handling of COVID-19 policy and his blunt assessments that Americans needed to change their behavior during the pandemic while serving former President Donald Trump made him a hero to public health advocates and a villain to some on the right.
He has also stressed the effectiveness of wearing face masks, which has become a partisan issue in the U.S., which leads the world in recorded COVID-19 deaths with more than one million.
Fauci noted that after 13 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given worldwide, there is "clearly an extensive body of information" that indicates that they are safe.
"When I see people in this country, because of the divisiveness in our country not getting vaccinated for reasons that have nothing to do with public health, but have to do because of divisiveness and ideological differences, as a physician it pains me," he added.
Joining Fauci on the podium, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said that the Biden administration urged all Americans to consult physicians for information about COVID-19, rather than uninformed voices.
"You can decide to trust America's physicians, or you can trust some random dude on Twitter," Jha stressed.
Fauci, 81, is stepping down in December after 54 years of public service. He has served as an adviser to seven U.S. presidents, starting with Republican Ronald Reagan.