Image by The White House

While President Trump continues to alternate between congratulating himself for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and seeking out new scapegoats for the damage it's done, his top infectious disease expert says it's "obvious" that many coronavirus-linked deaths could have been prevented.

"Again, it's the 'what would have, what could have,'" Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN. "It's very difficult to go back and say that. I mean, obviously, you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives."

"Obviously, no one is going to deny that," Fauci added.

Fauci's perspective is a stark reminder of just how severely the U.S. government failed to adequately respond to this global crisis. It doesn't help anyone right now to dwell on hindsight — but we can hope that Fauci's comments serve as a kick in the pants to the government to ramp up its efforts to fight the coronavirus and finally learn the many lessons it missed along the way.

For instance, doctors have long been urging for widespread, accessible testing to help health officials better track the outbreak. With that data, officials could more effectively distribute resources and healthcare. And yet, even with some antibody tests ready to go, the government is shutting down testing sites instead of adding more.

"We make a recommendation," Fauci said when asked why the Trump administration took so long to act. "Often, the recommendation is taken. Sometimes it's not. But we — it is what it is. We are where we are right now."