The brilliant immunologist Anthony Fauci advised seven American presidents. During the pandemic, he became an enemy, particularly to Trump and other Republicans.
Although Anthony Fauci advised seven presidents, every one since Ronald Reagan, earned many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among others, in his long career as the leading immunologist in the United States, and dedicated his life in service to public welfare, most people will remember his interactions with Donald Trump.
As president, Trump wanted the public to believe that COVID-19 would disappear in a flash. At one point, he conjectured that you could fight the virus by injecting disinfectant. It was the responsibility of a scientist like Fauci to publicly contradict the president in such cases, which enraged him.
Fauci announced this week that he would step down from his position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and as chief medical adviser to the president. Fauci, 81, said it is time to dedicate himself to the next chapter of his career.
It is likely that no scientist is better known in the United States. In 1968, Fauci joined the National Institutes of Health. He has since published tirelessly, serving as author, co-author or editor of more than 1,000 scientific texts. The American press reported that Fauci worked without a break, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
However, that is not quite true. In the summer of 2020, he was a guest at a Washington Nationals baseball game. He was asked to throw the ceremonial first pitch. In a spectacularly poor attempt, Fauci missed the catcher by about 60 feet. As outstanding as he may be as a scientist, he is miserable as a baseball player.
Republican politicians repeatedly called Fauci’s scientific brilliance, proven many times, into question during the COVID-19 crisis. These politicians wanted to lift all restrictions as quickly as possible, which Fauci warned against. In doing that, he became an enemy to some Republicans. He got into fierce arguments with Sen. Rand Paul in particular. When, during a congressional hearing, Paul called him a liar, the ever-so-gentle Fauci said in a cold and angry voice, “If anyone is lying here, senator, it is you.”
However, it is also undisputed that Fauci made mistakes dealing with the pandemic. In the beginning, he said it was not necessary to wear a mask in public. Furthermore, like many other scientists, he did not initially realize that the virus spread primarily through symptomless infected individuals. He publicly admitted to both mistakes.
Fauci wanted to step down as early as the end of Trump’s presidency. Fauci regularly received death threats as a result of hostility from the former president and other Republicans. The Washington Post reported that after Joe Biden won the presidential election in 2020, his team immediately contacted Fauci and asked him to stay on, which he did.
At the end of last year, a man was arrested in Iowa on his way to the capital from California. Among his belongings were a gun, ammunition and a list of people he intended to kill. At the top of the list: Biden and Fauci.
In the coming months Fauci wants to help choose his successor. And after that? He is “not retiring in the classic sense,” Instead he wants to devote himself “to traveling, writing and encouraging young people to enter government service.”