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Dr. Anthony Fauci said Trump's support for vaccines came too late after 'poisoning the well early on'

Business Insider logo Business Insider 12/28/2021 mloh@businessinsider.com (Matthew Loh)
Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Monday that he hoped former President Donald Trump would "keep it up" in his advocacy for vaccines. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images © MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Monday that he hoped former President Donald Trump would "keep it up" in his advocacy for vaccines. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said Trump publicly supported vaccines after "poisoning the well early on."
  • He suggested Trump's mixed signals on the shots contributed to vaccine hesitancy among Americans.
  • He said Trump's being booed while endorsing vaccines showed how strongly the US is divided.

On Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the White House, said former President Donald Trump had been "poisoning the well" long before his recent public support of the coronavirus vaccines.

Fauci, who is also the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he was glad Trump expressed support for vaccines but suggested his earlier mixed signals about the shots had contributed to vaccine hesitancy among Americans.

"Poisoning the well early on about — even not being enthusiastic or outright not pushing vaccines and discouraging vaccines now has a lingering effect," Fauci told CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

Fauci, who served as an advisor to Trump, has described his and Trump's working relationship as "somewhat awkward," as they appeared to continually contradict each other over pandemic measures.

Earlier this month, Trump told a crowd that he had gotten his booster shot and voiced support for the vaccines, prompting boos from the audience.

"Even when you come out and say, 'Go get vaccinated,' some of the people that have been following his every word and what he does are now pushing back and not listening," Fauci said.

Fauci told Collins he was "stunned by the fact that he's doing that and he's getting booed in some places for doing that," repeating a comment he'd made on ABC News on Sunday.

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"Which really tells you the strength of the divisiveness in our society, which I've always said, to me, is the biggest stumbling block about getting this pandemic under control," Fauci added.

"It really is no place for divisiveness, politically, when you have a classical, historical, unprecedented pandemic," he told Collins. "I mean, it just doesn't make any sense."

In an interview with the right-wing pundit Candace Owens last week, Trump rejected vaccine skepticism and called the development of the shots "one of the greatest achievements of mankind."

Fauci told Collins he hoped the former president would "keep it up."

Trump has still said he opposes vaccine mandates, which the Biden administration has pushed for this year.

About 205 million Americans over age 5, or about 66% of the US population, are fully vaccinated, and about 242 million Americans have received at least one shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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