Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was “stunned” on Sunday that former President Donald Trump was jeered by some of his supporters over the revelation that he had received a COVID-19 booster vaccination shot.
In recent days, the disgraced ex-president has made headlines over his support for the vaccines, which has resulted in loud criticism from many of the MAGA faithful who have actively embraced anti-vaccine rhetoric. During an event he co-hosted with former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly this month, Trump drew groans from the crowd for both enthusiastically endorsing the vaccine and noting he had recently been boosted.
Days later, in an interview with right-wing provocateur Candace Owens, Trump rebuked Owens’ anti-vax talking points, repeatedly noting that “the vaccine works” while encouraging viewers to get their shots. “Look, the results of the vaccine are very good, and if you do get it, it’s a very minor form. People aren’t dying when they take the vaccine,” he declared.
Interviewing Fauci on Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s This Week, guest anchor Jonathan Karl noted that after Trump was booed by his fans he “really pushed back” against Owens’ suggestion that the COVID-19 vaccines aren’t effective or safe. At the same time, Karl wondered if the ex-president’s supporters will listen to his advice.
“I was a bit dismayed when former President Trump came out and made that statement, and his followers booed him, which I was stunned by that,” the chief White House medical adviser replied. “I mean, given the fact of how popular he is with that group, that they would boo him, which tells me how recalcitrant they are about being told what they should do.”
The nation’s top infectious disease expert, however, expressed some hope that Trump’s pro-vaccine stance could push vaccine-resistant conservatives to get their jabs.
“And I think that his continuing to say that people should get vaccinated and articulating that to them, in my mind is a good thing,” Fauci stated. “I hope he keeps it up.”
While Trump has praised the vaccines in the past and recommended that his supporters get a shot, he’s generally couched it as a matter of personal freedom and hasn’t gone out of his way to publicly tout immunizations. His latest round of comments, meanwhile, drew plaudits from President Joe Biden, saying it was “one of the few things he and I agree on.”
Trump, for his part, said it would now be “very tough to be overly critical” of Biden that he “thanked us for the vaccine and thanked me for what I did.”