Dr. Anthony Fauci talks schools, Trump, and vaccines on GMA

NEW YORK -- Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke to GMA's Amy Robach about children going back to school across America, his relationship with the president, and COVID-19 vaccines.

Robach asked Dr. Fauci if he thinks President Donald Trump trusts him and his advice.

"I think he does," Fauci said. "I was at the White House yesterday at a task force meeting with the vice president and everything that we discussed what you just spoke about, regarding children, regarding everything that's going on that gets to him and he understands that. So, I think it's a distraction to pit me against the president. We are all on the same team."

Robach then asked Dr. Fauci to clarify something you might have seen on social media: That only 9,000 people died of COVID-19.

"The point that the CDC was trying to make was that a certain percentage of them had nothing else, just COVID. That does not mean that someone who has hypertension, diabetes who dies of COVID didn't die of COVID-19, but they did," he said. "So the numbers you've been hearing, the 180,000+ are real deaths from COVID-19. Let there not be any confusion about that, it's not 9,000 deaths from COVID-19, it's 180,000+ deaths."

Another thing the CDC came out with were new recommendations and guidelines for testing. Many thought that meant that all asymptomatic people do not need to be tested. That's not so, Fauci said. "There's no doubt that there's asymptomatic infection and that asymptomatic people can transmit and that you can and should test asymptomatic people."

Robach moved on to the all-important question of if schools across the United States should be open or reopen to students.

"When you are looking at opening schools, the country is a big country, there are parts of the country that we call green zones where you can without real impunity reopen schools if you are real careful like wearing masks and things. But there are parts of the country like yellow zones and certainly in the red zones when there is a lot of viral activity in the community you have to take a careful look at if and how you are going to open the schools. You may be able to do it with certain precautions, physical separating, alternating of classes, hybrid approaches, but there are some areas where there is such a high degree of infection that you really want to be careful if you do that," Dr. Fauci said.

"I might say though, importantly, the best way to get schools open is to decrease the rate and level of infection in your community," he continued. "So if you are in a red zone, get yourself into a yellow or green zone and we wouldn't be having this conversation about whether or not to open the schools. So as a community we need to pull together as communities instead of trying to determine should you go into school in this particular zone. Get out of the red zone, get your community, your city, your state into a yellow or a green zone and that would be much safer to get children to school."

Lastly, the FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn recently said a vaccine could be approved for emergency use, even before phase 3 trials are completed.

"I've always said and I think virtually all of my colleagues agree, that's much different than what Dr. Hahn said if you talk about what he's actually meaning. You don't want a vaccine to be readily available to the American public unless it's been shown to be safe and effective, safe and effective," Dr. Fauci said.

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