The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease spoke with ABC News about the US’s failure to contain and suppress the virus.
“We’ve done worse than most any other country,” Dr Fauci said. “And we’re a highly-developed rich country.”
He said that early predictions of 250,000 deaths were written off as “hyperbolic,” and said “now here we are with a half a million deaths.”
The comments come on the same day that Joe Biden plans to honour the half a million Americans who have died as a result of the coronavirus.
Mr Biden will participate in a candlelight vigil and moment of silence to honour the dead.
“Later today, the President, the first lady, the vice president and the second gentlemen will mark the solemn milestone of 500,000 American lives lost to Covid-19. They will ask all Americans to join in a moment of silence during a candle-lighting ceremony at sundown,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during the press briefing.
“President Biden will also deliver remarks and order all flags on federal property to be lowered at half-staff for the next five days.”
Since Mr Biden took office, he has frequently voiced his desire to fast track vaccinations and bolster the immunisation effort in the US.
Dr Fauci told CNN that he believed the US needed to increase the number of individuals it was vaccinating each day. Currently the US vaccinates 1.5m people each day. Dr Fauci believes that number needs to be at least 2m daily.
The doctor said Americans may still be wearing masks outside their homes a year from now, depending on how quickly and effectively the country can vaccinate the populace. He also pointed to the rise of variant coronavirus types as a potential cause for longer-term mask use.
“I want it to keep going down to a baseline that’s so low there is virtually no threat,” Dr Fauci said. “If you combine getting most of the people in the country vaccinated with getting the level of virus in the community very, very low, then I believe you’re going to be able to say, for the most part, we don’t necessarily have to wear masks.”
Since returning to the public view working under the Biden administration, Dr Fauci has said he wanted to “let the science speak” when he provides updates and suggestions regarding the virus.
The View co-host Meghan McCain called for Dr Fauci to be fired on Monday, claiming he using “inconsistent messaging” regarding the coronavirus vaccine.
“The fact that Dr Fauci is going on CNN and he can’t tell me if I get the vaccine I’ll be able to have dinner with my family … it’s terrible inconsistent messaging,” she said.
She said the administration should remove him and replace him with someone who understood science in Israel.
“I think we need to have more people giving more opinions, and honestly, quite frankly, I think the Biden administration should remove him and put someone else in place that maybe does understand science or can talk to other countries about how we can be more like these places who are doing this successfully,” she said. “The fact that I, Meghan McCain, co-host of The View, don’t know when or how I will be able to get a vaccine because the rollout for my age range and my health is so nebulous, I have no idea when and how I get it.”
Ms McCain’s co-host, Whoopi Goldberg, pushed back on her criticism, pointing out that there were substantial differences between the US and Israeli populations.