The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, said it is beyond doubt that Trump will be confronted with a sudden infection outbreak during his presidency.
Fauci has been leading NIAID for more than three decades and has been advising five Presidents on global health-related threats from the early days of AIDS in the 1980s until the current Zika virus outbreak.
At a forum on pandemic preparedness conducted in Georgetown University, Fauci said that Trump’s administration would be challenged with global issues like Influenza and HIV, and a surprise disease outbreak.
“The history of the last 32 years that I have been the director of the NIAID will tell the next administration that there is no doubt they will be faced with the challenges their predecessors faced with,” he said.
According to Fauci and other health experts, preventing the course of pandemic often starts overseas, and a proper response means not only the collaboration between other countries but also between the private and public health sectors.
“We will definitely get surprised in the next few years,” he said.
With his controversial comments and sometimes unclear views on health reality, President Trump worried some infectious-disease experts.
Ronald Klain, who coordinated the U.S.’s Ebola response for the Obama administration, condemned Trump’s silence about the Zika virus and harsh comments about American volunteers getting infected with Ebola virus during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He further commented: “not the kind of leadership we need in our next president.”
“It’s hard to think of a more important time to show a willingness to speak out in the public health community and the global health community than it is right now on the eve of Donald Trump becoming our next president,” Klain said. “The risks have never been higher, and the question of his perspective on these issues has never been more dubious than it is with Donald Trump.”
Fauci and other health experts referenced the disease outbreaks from the former administrations, including the time of Barack Obama, where the H1N1 Influenza Pandemic was tested in early 2009. In recent years, the said administration was forced to repurpose almost $600 million in federal funds primarily for the Ebola outbreak when Republicans rejected Obama’s request for $1.9 billion to fund the nation’s Zika response.
Present Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Amy Pope, JD, said: “It was typical of the US government that money meant for the Ebola epidemic was appropriated for Zika because of the proclivity of populations to worry about what is currently threatening them.”
“We shouldn’t ask the American public to make those choices in the future,” she said. “It doesn’t keep them safe.”
According to Klain, the preparation of the pandemic should be approached from a neutral ground. Being a democrat, Klain took the example of Republican president George W. Bush founding US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham. They collaborated with the Obama administration on the Ebola response.
“The mosquitoes don’t know if they’re biting Democrats or Republicans,” Klain said. “They don’t know what party you are.”
“There is no safety for us and our populace when infectious diseases rage,” he said. “The only way the American people can have safety and security in their lives is to promote safety and security around the world.”
Hamid Jafari, MD, acting director of the Division of Global Health Protection at the CDC, said: “CDC has been productive during past presidential transitions and expects the same will be true as control of the White House passes from Obama to Trump. We have room for optimism that there will be continuing support.”
Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Amy Pope, JD, also said: “We never know what’s going to hit us, so we need to be prepared as possible.”
According to Pope, some in the health community are cautious about working with the security community. They think it will be damaging to their work when it is actually the opposite. “Marrying these communities actually leads to more resources and more attention,” she said.
Fauci strongly speculated that there would be a resurgence of the Zika virus this summer. According to Fauci, the Trump administration should be more concerned about the potential for a new kind of influenza pandemic and outbreak of diseases that are not still on the radar of anyone else. “What about the things we are not even thinking about?” he said.
“No matter what, history has told us definitively that [outbreaks] will happen because [facing] infectious diseases is a perpetual challenge. It is not going to go away. The thing we’re extraordinarily confident about is that we’re going to see this in the next few years.”