The nation's top infectious disease expert says the COVID-19 crisis has the potential to be as serious as the influenza pandemic of 1918.
"This is a pandemic of historic proportions. ... It's something that I think when history looks back on it, it’ll be comparable to what we saw in 1918," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday during a virtual Georgetown University forum on the coronavirus pandemic.
By some estimates, the 1918 pandemic killed at least 50 million people worldwide. To date, COVID-19 has killed more than half a million.
Fauci has voiced concerns over reopening the country as new daily coronavirus cases have reached record numbers in the U.S.
"We haven’t even begun to see the end of it yet," Fauci said Monday during a virtual forum with Stanford Medicine.
His warnings have appeared to put him at odds with President Trump, who has cast doubt on the threat of COVID-19.
"When you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people, you're going to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down, please," President Trump said last month at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Fauci said that while it is true that an increase in testing will lead to an increase in confirmed cases, there's "no doubt" infections are up.
"We know that because the percentage of cases that are tested that are positive are increasing. Therefore, unequivocally, you’re seeing truly more cases," the public health expert said Tuesday.
They also appear split on pulling out of the World Health Organization.
"We withdrew from the Chinese-dominated WHO," the president said at a press briefing Tuesday.
"I hope this kind of tension between the United States and the WHO, somehow or other, ultimately gets settled in a favorable way, because the world does need a WHO for outbreaks like this, and even for the general health of the globe, to coordinate it," Fauci said Tuesday.
Though their relationship appears increasingly rocky, the president has tried to downplay tensions.
"I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci," President Trump said Monday at a roundtable. "I've had, for a long time, right from the beginning. I find him to be a very nice person, I don't always agree with him. No, I get along with him very well. I like him."
Contains footage from CNN.