It’s a little known fact, to many in the US no doubt, that scientific briefings are usually pretty dull. That’s no bad thing. If you’re not a scientist, you’re bored with Covid or you’re not entertained by grim death tolls, there’s a limited amount you’re going to take from one.
Until today, White House briefings about the coronavirus pandemic had the potential to go in any number of wild directions, from the commander-in-chief interrupting scientists to make such helpful suggestions as “we could inject disinfectant” or treating people with “a UV or very powerful light” (presumably a nod to his tanning bed), there was no predicting what might happen.
Trump’s presence in the fight against coronavirus was like watching an ill-equipped hype man interrupting a song. He was a poor man’s Flavor Flav to Dr Anthony Fauci’s Chuck D (sorry Flav, I love you), only instead of saying ‘yeahhh boi’, Trump contradicted most of what Dr Fauci said, as well as throwing in a few unhinged suggestions of his own.
Dr Fauci’s first briefing in months, and first ever of the Biden era, showed that the US coronavirus response is about to turn a corner, not least because he was delivering the briefing himself and without interruptions from a petulant toddler shouting LOUD WORDS after too much sugar.
What Dr Fauci did, including giving reasonable responses to press questions, was pledge that the successes and failures of the Covid-19 response would be shared with the general public – information, he assured the assembled press corps, that had come directly from the newly sworn-in President Joe Biden.
“I can tell you my impression of what’s going on right now … one of the things that was very clear as recently as about 15 minutes ago when I was with the president is that one of the things we are going to do is be completely transparent open and honest,” Dr Fauci said, answering a question about what he thought the new administration would do differently compared with the last.
“If things go wrong, not point fingers but to correct them and to make everything we do based on science and evidence,” he added, making no attempt to disguise his fatigue with the former president’s approach to the pandemic.
The fact that being led by science is a new and exciting outlook to the administration’s handling of the virus is almost mind boggling, or would be if we hadn’t witnessed some of the more outlandish suggestions to come out of the White House over the past year.
Discussions are now ongoing as to how to ensure the general public can access vaccines, how to provide shots to people in ‘pharmacy deserts’ and how to tackle vaccine hesitancy and achieve the goal of herd immunity.
They are, as one would expect, being led by scientists, with decisions intended to be based on reason and fact rather than bombast. For his part, Dr Fauci looks thrilled to be have been relieved of babysitting duties. Finally, the grown-ups are back in charge.