Anthony Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). He has been an advisor to every US president since Ronald Regan. President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work on the AIDS relief program PEPFAR.
During his career, Dr. Fauci made ground-breaking advances in HIV understanding and treatment and other formerly fatal immune-compromising diseases, and cancer research and treatment. He is considered one of the most respected scientists in the world.
Then came Covid-19.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fauci served under President Donald Trump as one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. By April 2020 he had become the social media’s scapegoat for the Trump Administration’s mishandling of the early days of the pandemic. Fauci told CNN that if the administration had "started mitigation earlier" more lives could have been saved, and "no one is going to deny that." He added that the decision-making for implementing mitigation measures was "complicated", and "there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then."
Fauci's comments were met with a hostile response from former Republican congressional candidate DeAnna Lorraine. Trump retweeted Lorraine's response, which included the call to "#FireFauci". "Fire Fauci" was also being chanted by anti-lockdown protesters in various locations, including Florida and Texas.
Neither DeAnna Lorraine nor Donald Trump are medical professionals, scientists, or researchers.
Dr. Fauci became a target of the MAGAs, and there was a concerted effort on the part of Trump supporters to spread misinformation about the virus aggressively, according to Dr. Bergstrom who added that some people believe the experts are untrustworthy. Soon online conspiracy theories claiming Dr. Fauci was a fraud, was taken up by QAnon. Soon some people were believing Covid-19 was faked, or at least the stats were being manipulated.
After 54 years of medical work and research, Dr. Fauci has announced his retirement from public service. He leaves the next generation with these words:
“The major successes of the Covid-19 pandemic have been driven by scientific advances, particularly lifesaving vaccines that were developed, proven safe and effective in clinical trials and made available to the public within one year — an unprecedented feat.
Other lessons are painful, such as the failures of certain public health responses domestically and globally. We also must acknowledge that our fight against Covid-19 has been hindered by the profound political divisiveness in our society. In a way that we have never seen before, decisions about public health measures such as wearing masks and being vaccinated with highly effective and safe vaccines have been influenced by disinformation and political ideology.
It is our collective responsibility to ensure that public health policy decisions are driven by the best available data. Scientists and health workers can do their part by speaking up, including to new and old media sources, to share and explain in plain language the latest scientific findings as well as what remains to be learned.”
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