In a Good Morning America segment addressing the more than 500,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci did not mince words about the country’s failure at containing the virus. He bluntly stated that the U.S. has had the worst response to the coronavirus pandemic in the world.
“I believe that if you look back historically, we’ve done worse than almost any other country,” Fauci told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos. “And we’re a highly developed rich country.”
As noted by ABC News, one in every 656 Americans has died from COVID-19. The U.S. currently has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world. The country’s more than 525,000 deaths far surpass those of the runner-up country, Brazil, which has about 270,000 deaths. According to Statista, the U.S. also has the 8th highest death rate per capita, with 1,517.7 deaths per million people.
Fauci was particularly critical of the previous administration’s approach to the virus, which called for each state to create its own plan rather than coordinate a “unified approach.”
“But it’s so tough to try and go back and do a metaphorical autopsy on how things went,” Fauci said. “It was just bad. It is bad now. I think these numbers are so stunning, George.”
Fauci also recalled that around March of 2020, when the virus was beginning to spread in the U.S., Americans thought he was “hyperbolic” when he warned the country could see 240,000 deaths. Many U.S. citizens refused to believe that the country’s coronavirus response would fall so short.
“Now here we are with a half million deaths,” Fauci said. “It’s just a stunning figure.”
Fauci also encouraged Americans away from the urge to become caught up in regrets over the high death toll. Instead, he said Americans should focus on moving forward and unifying to defeat the virus.
“This is a common enemy,” Fauci said. “We’ve all got to pitch in. We’re in some good shape now with the vaccines, but it’s going to be a race against the infections that keep coming and our ability to do two things and do them well.”
Those two things include continuing to practice public health measures—like wearing masks and social distancing—and doing everything possible to vaccinate the public quickly and efficiently, according to Fauci.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend that all Americans practice safety measures to help control the spread of COVID-19, though new guidelines were introduced in early March for those people who had been vaccinated. Safety measures include washing hands often, maintaining at least a six-foot distance from others, avoiding crowds, and wearing a mask whenever in public.