Anthony Fauci, the 79-year-old director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has said that in the course of his long career he has learned “to always stay with science, to stay away from politics”.
The leading immunologist turns 80 on Christmas Eve and spent much of his last year as a seventy-year-old helping to fight the COVID 19 pandemic as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Since the outbreak began in the United States, Fauci has testified before Congress and given advice on public health in countless media interviews, elegantly correcting some of the falsehoods spread by President Donald Trump without directly criticizing the administration.
On Thursday, in an interview with Chatham House, a British policy institute, Fauci was asked how he would be remembered when he was probably dealing with the last major public health crisis in his career. Fauci has headed NIAID since 1984 and advised six presidents on issues including the HIV outbreak that marked the beginning of his term of office.
said Fauci: “Let science and knowledge guide you. Always stay with science, stay away from politics. I have devoted my entire professional career to public health and global health, with a very strong scientific basis, because I am a scientist”.
His comments come as his influence on the White House response to the COVID 19 pandemic seems to be waning under pressure from the President’s allies. At the beginning of the outbreak, he appeared at daily press briefings with the President. But on Monday, he told CNN station Wolf Blitzer that the last time he spoke with Trump was when the President was hospitalized for COVID-19 more than a month ago.
His relationship with the administration seemed to be too angry in the run-up to the election when Fauci said he was disappointed that Trump’s campaign had taken his words out of context in an election ad. After Fauci told the Washington Post that Joe Biden was taking the outburst “from a public health perspective” and Trump “from another perspective” seriously, White House spokesman Judd Deere accused him of playing politics.
Fauci told Chatham House: “I hope I will be remembered as someone who stuck to science and contributed through several outbreaks from HIV to the most recent, now with COVID.
Fauci said when he took up his post he did not want to leave until effective countermeasures were in place against some of “the big killers”.
He said: “In my opinion, besides COVID-19, which we are obviously still dealing with, we should not forget malaria, not tuberculosis, not these tropical diseases that do not kill but maim. We still have a long way to go in the area of global health, and I am not leaving until we actually embrace these diseases.
Laughing, he added: “Well, hang in there. You will have to let me kick around you for much longer”.