Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s “explainer-in-chief” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, received a prestigious Israeli award that comes with a $1 million prize on Monday for “speaking truth to power.”
Fauci, with six other researchers in separate fields, received the Dan David award “for achievements having an outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact on our world.”
Donald Trump and Fauci were often at odds when publicly discussing COVID-19 during the last administration as Trump repeatedly downplayed the severity of the disease while Fauci stressed the importance of following public health guidelines to limit the spread.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic unravelled, [he] leveraged his considerable communication skills to address people gripped by fear and anxiety and worked relentlessly to inform individuals in the United States and elsewhere about the public health measures essential for containing the pandemic’s spread,” said the awards committee in a statement.
“In addition, he has been widely praised for his courage in speaking truth to power in a highly charged political environment.”
Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health since 1984.
The 80-year-old has advised seven U.S. presidents throughout his career and is now working with the Biden administration as the U.S. attempts to inoculate the third largest population in the world against COVID-19.
“It was very clear what President Biden wanted and that is that science was going to rule,” Fauci told National Public Radio earlier this month. “… we were going to base whatever we do, our recommendations or guidelines on sound scientific evidence and sound scientific data.”
Fauci added that Biden’s approach to the pandemic so far was “refreshing” compared to the Trump administration.
“(Biden) said, ‘We’re going to make some mistakes along the way. We’re going to stumble a bit and when that happens, we’re not going to blame anybody. We’re just going to fix it,'” Fauci said.
“Boy, was that refreshing.”
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The awards committee called Fauci the “consummate model of leadership and impact in public health,” adding that he “courageously (defended) science in the face of uninformed opposition during the challenging COVID crisis.”
The award stipulates that 10 per cent of the prize money be used for academic scholarships, which Fauci will design and create.
Fauci’s work and research during the HIV/AIDS epidemic earned him acclaim in the field of infectious diseases as he helped to develop treatments that allowed carriers of HIV to live long and happy lives.
He also helped to found and launch the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief under the George W. Bush administration, a program widely credited with saving millions of lives in developing countries in Africa and beyond.