National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci addresses the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, January 21, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON – US top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said recently that former US President Donald Trump used to coax him to downplay the gravity of the COVID-19 situation in the United States.

In an interview earlier this week with The New York Times, Fauci recalled the time when he worked as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force under the Trump administration, indicating that at the early stage of the COVID-19 outbreak, the former president had been trying to minimize the situation.

“I started to realize that there was an issue here when you would say something and try and express the gravity of the situation and the response of the president was always leaning towards well,” Fauci said, adding that “so it was always almost a reflex response when you would explain something … coaxing you to minimize it.”

Talking about the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, Fauci revealed that Trump tended to make the evaluation of medical interventions “based on no data but anecdotes.” “And that worried me very much,” he said.

The medical expert admitted that he was at variance with Trump over the evaluation and handling of the crisis.

“There was an occasion or two where I would make a statement … that was much more of a pessimistic viewpoint about what direction we were going with regard to the outbreak,” Fauci said. “The president would call me up, you know, say ‘why aren’t you more positive? You’ve got to take a positive attitude. Why are you so negativistic? Be more positive.'”

According to the real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University, the United States has recorded more than 26.09 million COVID-19 cases with over 440,000 related deaths as of Sunday noon, leading the world with the most COVID-19 infections and deaths.