Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday the Trump administration deserves “considerable credit” for the development of the COVID-19 vaccines and the U.S. needs a politically unified stance against the virus, their “common enemy.”

The Biden administration as a whole rarely acknowledges former President Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” initiative, instead crediting drugmakers and scientists, though Dr. Fauci said he worked on “both sides of the fence” and saw the process unfold.

“I can tell you there is no doubt that the former administration deserves a considerable amount of credit for the effort that was put into Operation Warp Speed that was able to allow not only the rapid development and testing but also the implementation of the vaccine,” Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told the Senate Health Committee.

Dr. Fauci was responding to Sen. Tommy Tuberville, Alabama Republican, who said some acknowledgment of Mr. Trump’s efforts might help lift vaccine uptake in his deeply red state, where only a third of the population is fully vaccinated.

Recent data show vaccination rates in counties that supported Mr. Trump in 2020 are falling behind those that backed President Biden.

Dr. Fauci said a positive and unified message will make a difference in closing the gap.

“I think what we need to appreciate is that we are dealing with a common enemy, and the common enemy is the virus. The virus doesn’t know if you’re a Republican, Democrat or independent. The virus just knows that it makes people ill, and it kills people,” he said. “The unifying message is let’s all pull together and utilize that tool, which is vaccination, to really crush that common enemy.”

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