Republican tries to get doctor to downplay coronavirus threat -- and it backfires spectacularly
Dr. Anthony Fauci (Screen cap).

One Republican lawmaker's attempt to downplay the threat posed by coronavirus blew up in his face on Thursday when a top government expert on infectious diseases told him that the threat is very real.

During a House Oversight Committee hearing on the virus, Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX) tried to get Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to say that the media was overhyping the dangers posed by the coronavirus.

"I'd like to spend some time trying to clear the record... as we try to find the proper balance between creating a positive, proactive response to real threats, as opposed to instigating overreaction," he said, and then asked him to compare how the coronavirus compared to other past infectious disease outbreaks such as SARS and H1N1.

Fauci responded by saying that people should take the virus very seriously and that it should not be confused with the seasonal flu.

"The seasonal flu has a mortality of 0.1 percent," he said. "The state mortality, overall, of this... is about three percent."

He then added some caveats about the mortality rate data but said the bottom line was coronavirus was at least "ten times more lethal than the seasonal flu."

"But less lethal than N1H1 (sic)?" Cloud asked.

"The 2009 pandemic of H1N1 was even less lethal than the regular seasonal flu," Fauci said.

Watch the video below.