|2nd Chief Medical Advisor to the President|
|Assumed office |
January 20, 2021
|Preceded by||Ronny Jackson (2019)|
|5th Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases|
|Assumed office |
November 2, 1984
|Deputy||James Hill |
John La Montagne
|Preceded by||Richard M. Krause|
Anthony Stephen Fauci
December 24, 1940
New York City, U.S.
|Institutions||National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases|
Anthony Stephen Fauci //; born December 24, 1940) is an American physician-scientist and immunologist serving as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President.(
As a physician with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Fauci has served the American public health sector in various capacities for more than fifty years and has acted as an advisor to every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan. He has been director of the NIAID since 1984 and has made contributions to HIV/AIDS research and other immunodeficiency diseases, both as a research scientist and as the head of the NIAID. From 1983 to 2002, Fauci was one of the world's most frequently cited scientists across all scientific journals. In 2008, President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, for his work on the AIDS relief program PEPFAR.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he served under President Donald Trump as one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Fauci's advice was frequently contradicted by Trump, and Trump's supporters alleged that Fauci was trying to politically undermine Trump's run for reelection. After Joe Biden took office, Fauci began serving as one of the lead members of the White House COVID-19 Response Team and as Biden's chief medical advisor.
Early life and education
Anthony Fauci was born on December 24, 1940, in Brooklyn, New York City, to Eugenia Lillian (née Abys; 1909–1965) and Stephen A. Fauci (1910–2008). His father was a Columbia University-educated pharmacist who owned his pharmacy. Fauci's mother and sister worked the pharmacy's register, and Fauci delivered prescriptions. Fauci's mother also worked at a dry cleaner. The pharmacy was located in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn, directly beneath the family apartment, previously in the Bensonhurst neighborhood. When he was a child, Fauci developed a fascination with World War II.
Fauci's grandparents immigrated to the United States from Italy in the late 19th century. His paternal grandparents, Antonino Fauci and Calogera Guardino, were from Sciacca, and his maternal grandparents were from Naples. His maternal grandmother Raffaella Trematerra was a seamstress, and his maternal grandfather Giovanni Abys was a Swiss-born artist noted for his landscape and portrait painting, magazine illustrations in Italy, as well as graphic design for commercial labels, including olive oil cans. Fauci grew up Catholic, but now considers himself a humanist, stating that he thinks "that there are a lot of things about organized religion that are unfortunate, and [that he tends] to like to stay away from it." In 2021, he was named Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association.
Fauci attended Regis High School, a private Jesuit school in Manhattan's Upper East Side, where he captained the school's basketball team despite standing only 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) tall. Fauci decided halfway through high school to become a physician. After graduating in 1958, Fauci attended the College of the Holy Cross, graduating in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in classics with a pre-med track. Fauci then attended Cornell University's Medical College (now Weill Cornell Medicine), graduating with a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1966 ranked first in his class. At Cornell, he focused on adult internal medicine, mainly infectious diseases and the immune system. Fauci then did an internship and residency in internal medicine at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center (now Weill Cornell Medical Center).
After completing his medical residency in 1968, Fauci joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a clinical associate in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases's (NIAID) Laboratory of Clinical Investigation (LCI). He became head of the LCI's Clinical Physiology Section in 1974, and in 1980 was appointed chief of the NIAID's Laboratory of Immunoregulation. He became director of the NIAID in 1984, a position he still holds. Fauci has been offered the position of director of the NIH several times, but has declined each time.
Fauci has been at the forefront of U.S. efforts to contend with viral diseases like HIV/AIDS, SARS, the Swine flu, MERS, Ebola, and COVID-19. He played a significant role in the early 2000s in creating the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and in driving development of biodefense drugs and vaccines following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Fauci has made important scientific observations that contributed to the understanding of the regulation of the human immune response and is recognized for delineating the mechanisms whereby immunosuppressive agents adapt to that response. He developed therapies for formerly fatal diseases such as polyarteritis nodosa, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, and lymphomatoid granulomatosis. In a 1985 Stanford University Arthritis Center Survey, members of the American Rheumatism Association ranked Fauci's work on the treatment of polyarteritis nodosa and granulomatosis with polyangiitis as one of the most important advances in patient management in rheumatology over the previous 20 years.
Fauci has contributed to the understanding of how HIV destroys the body's natural defense system, progressing to AIDS. He has outlined the mechanisms of induction of HIV expression by endogenous cytokines. Fauci has worked to develop strategies for the therapy and immune reconstitution of patients with the disease, as well as for a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. His current research is concentrated on identifying the nature of the immunopathogenic mechanisms of HIV infection and the scope of the body's immune responses to HIV.
In 2003, the Institute for Scientific Information stated that from 1983 to 2002, "Fauci was the 13th most-cited scientist among the 2.5 to 3.0 million authors in all disciplines throughout the world who published articles in scientific journals." As a government scientist under seven presidents, Fauci has been described as "a consistent spokesperson for science, a person who more than any other figure has brokered a generational peace" between the two worlds of science and politics.
In a 2020 interview with The Guardian, Fauci remarked, "My career and my identity has really been defined by HIV." He was one of the leading researchers during the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. In 1981, he and his team of researchers began looking for a vaccine or treatment for this novel virus, though they would meet a number of obstacles. In October 1988, protesters came to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci, who had become the institute's director in 1984, bore the brunt of the anger from the LGBTQ+ community who were largely ignored by the government.
Leading AIDS activist Larry Kramer attacked Fauci relentlessly in the media. He called him an "incompetent idiot" and a "pill-pushing" tool of the medical establishment. Fauci did not have control over drug approval though many people felt he was not doing enough. Fauci did make an effort in the late 1980s to reach out to the LGBTQ+ community in New York and San Francisco to find ways he and the NIAID could find a solution. Though Fauci was initially admonished for his treatment of the AIDS epidemic, his work in the community was eventually acknowledged. Kramer, who had spent years hating Fauci for his treatment of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, eventually called him "the only true and great hero" among government officials during the AIDS crisis.
In 2014, Sean Strub of HuffPost criticized Fauci for "delaying promotion of an AIDS treatment that would have prevented tens of thousands of deaths in the first years of the epidemic" and accused him of "rewriting history."
Political commentator Helen Andrews defended Fauci's actions during the epidemic in a 2021 article, writing:
The idea that Fauci was "wrong" about A.I.D.S., which some of his contemporary opponents repeat, is unfair. His most notorious error was a 1983 paper suggesting "routine close contact, as within a family household," might spread the disease, but it was an understandable mistake given what was known at the time and he corrected it within a year, lightning speed by the standards of academic publishing. He behaved more responsibly than some of his peers when it came to speculating about a heterosexual A.I.D.S. epidemic around the corner. He was not one of the hysteria-mongers—though he did benefit from the hysteria when negotiating budgets with Congress.
2009 swine flu pandemic
In a meeting with reporters on September 17, 2009, Fauci predicted that the H1N1 virus causing the 2009 swine flu pandemic could infect as many as one in three Americans, more than the amount of Americans usually infected by the seasonal flu.
Ebola congressional hearing
On October 16, 2014, in a United States congressional hearing regarding the Ebola virus crisis, Fauci, who, as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) had been discussing the importance of screening for weeks, testified that NIAID was still some distance away from producing sufficient quantities of cures or vaccines for widespread trials. Specifically, Fauci said, "While NIAID is an active participant in the global effort to address the public health emergency occurring in west Africa, it is important to recognize that we are still in the early stages of understanding how infection with the Ebola virus can be treated and prevented."
Fauci also remarked in the hearing: "As we continue to expedite research while enforcing high safety and efficacy standards, the implementation of the public health measures already known to contain prior Ebola virus outbreaks and the implementation of treatment strategies such as fluid and electrolyte replacement is essential to preventing additional infections, treating those already infected, protecting healthcare providers, and ultimately bringing this epidemic to an end."
Fauci had not met with Trump until three years after he was inaugurated as president.
Fauci was a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force established in late January 2020, under President Donald Trump, to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. He became a de facto public health spokesperson for the office of the president during the pandemic, and a strong advocate for ongoing social distancing efforts in the United States.
In interviews on January 21, January 26, and February 17, Fauci commented on COVID-19. He said that at the time of the interviews ("right now"), COVID-19 was not a "major threat" to the American public, with the risk to the American public being "low", but that it was "an evolving situation", and that "public health officials need to take [COVID-19] very seriously". In the latter interview, Fauci said that COVID-19 could become a "global pandemic which would then have significant implications for" the United States.
In a March 8, 2020, interview, Fauci stated that "right now in the United States, people [who are not infected] should not be walking around with masks", but "if you want to do it, that's fine". In the same interview, Fauci said that buying masks "could lead to a shortage of masks for the people who really need" them: "When you think masks, you should think of healthcare providers needing them". When Fauci made this comment, America's top surgical mask maker was struggling to produce enough masks to meet the increased demand. On April 3, the CDC reversed course, quoting recent studies that showed asymptomatic transmission of the virus, thus advocating for the public to wear non-surgical masks to reduce community transmission while Fauci advocated for wearing facial coverings in public.
In mid-April, when asked about social distancing and stay-at-home measures, Fauci said 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", drawing public alarm. "Fire Fauci" has also been chanted by anti-lockdown protesters in various locations, including Florida and Texas. As a result, the White House denied that Trump was firing Fauci, and blamed the media for overreacting.
Due to Trump's opposition to CDC mask wearing guidelines and social distancing measures, which Fauci advocated, Fauci was criticized by right-wing pundits and received death threats that necessitated a security detail. In an interview with 60 Minutes in 2020, he mentioned that other members of his family, including his wife and daughters, had been repeatedly harassed since the pandemic began.
In June 2020, Fauci said that he was "very concerned" that the ongoing protests against police brutality would cause "surges" in COVID-19 cases, stating that the "large crowds" are a "perfect set-up" for the virus to spread. In July 2020, Fauci advised the public to "avoid crowds of any type".
On July 6, 2020, Fauci spoke on a Facebook livestream, offering his opinion that the country's situation pertaining to COVID-19 "is really not good", pointing to more than 55,000 new cases on July 4, 2020. He said the United States was "still knee-deep in the first wave" of cases, and was experiencing a "resurgence of infections". On July 7, 2020, during a press conference, Fauci stated that it was a "false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death" for COVID-19 in the country: "There's so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus, don't get yourself into false complacency." Both Trump and the White House had cited the falling death rate as proof of success of the Trump administration's response. After this appearance by Fauci, the White House cancelled three media appearances that had been scheduled for him later that week. On July 7, 2020, Trump contradicted Fauci's comments describing a dire situation in the country, with Trump saying: "I think we are in a good place. I disagree with [Fauci]." While there were disagreements, Trump also at times praised Fauci.
On July 9, 2020, Trump publicly claimed that Fauci "made a lot of mistakes". By July 12, 2020, a White House official told media outlets that "several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things", passing to the media a list of purported mistakes made by Fauci during the outbreak. One of the supposed mistakes highlighted was Fauci's February 29, 2020, statement in an interview that "at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you're doing on a day-by-day basis." However, the White House list neglected to mention that in that same interview, Fauci had stated that the risk could change, "when you start to see community spread", and that the disease could morph into "a major outbreak" in the country.
As late as September 23, 2020, when U.S. coronavirus fatalities exceeded 200,000, conservatives continued to question Fauci's and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendations for responding to the pandemic. In a hearing before the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Kentucky's Senator Rand Paul asked him if he had "second thoughts" about his mitigation recommendations, including keeping six feet of distance from others and mask-wearing, claiming, "our death rate is essentially worse than Sweden's." Fauci stood by the guidelines, indicating Sweden's fatality rate exceeded those of other Scandinavian countries, and said the comparison between Sweden and the U.S. was not legitimate. Fauci said the recommendations remained valid. After Paul then asserted New York's high fatality rate showed that mitigation efforts were insufficient, Fauci replied, "You've misconstrued that, Senator, and you've done that repetitively in the past." Fauci explained further that New York State had succeeded in getting the virus under control by following the CDC's clinical guidelines. Paul had made numerous claims about herd immunity, Sweden's interventions to combat the pandemic, the contention that the populations of Asian countries have greater resilience against COVID-19, and statements about death rates due to the virus.
In October 2020, Fauci objected after his words, "I can't imagine that anybody could be doing more" were featured in an advertisement from the Trump campaign touting Trump's handling of the pandemic. Fauci said he did not consent to the ad, his words were taken out of context (he was actually referring to how hard the Coronavirus Task Force was working), and he had never made a political endorsement in his career.
Also, in October, Fauci criticized the Great Barrington Declaration's "focused protection" herd immunity strategy, calling it "ridiculous", "total nonsense" and "very dangerous", saying that it would lead to a large number of avoidable deaths. Fauci said that 30 percent of the population had underlying health conditions that made them vulnerable to the virus and that "older adults, even those who are otherwise healthy, are far more likely than young adults to become seriously ill if they get COVID-19." He added, "This idea that we have the power to protect the vulnerable is total nonsense because history has shown that that's not the case. And if you talk to anybody who has any experience in epidemiology and infectious diseases, they will tell you that that is risky, and you'll wind up with many more infections of vulnerable people, which will lead to hospitalizations and deaths. So I think that we just got to look that square in the eye and say it's nonsense."
On October 18, 2020, Fauci mentioned that he "wasn't surprised" Donald Trump contracted COVID-19. The next day, during a presidential call, Trump called Fauci "a disaster" and said that "people are tired of COVID." During a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on October 19, Trump launched attacks on his political rival Joe Biden, saying that Biden "wants to listen to Dr. Fauci" regarding the handling of the pandemic, upon which Biden merely replied "Yes" on Twitter. On October 31, The Washington Post published an extensive interview with Fauci, in which he voiced a candid assessment of the administration's COVID-19 policies and was critical of the influence of presidential advisor Scott Atlas.
Shortly after midnight on November 2, 2020, Trump insinuated he would fire Fauci "after the election" while on stage at a campaign rally at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Opa-locka, Florida. At the rally, he made false claims that the pandemic was "rounding the turn" and was met by audience chants of "Fire Fauci!", to which he responded, "Don't tell anybody, but let me wait until after the election ... I appreciate the advice." Despite the rhetoric, Fauci was not fired.
On December 2, the United Kingdom became the first western country to license a vaccine against the coronavirus (Pfizer-BioNTech). In response, Fauci said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was proceeding "the correct way" and said the U.K. "really rushed through that approval". The next day Fauci apologized, telling the BBC "I have a great deal of confidence in what the U.K. does both scientifically and from a regulator standpoint. Our process is one that takes more time than it takes in the U.K. ... I did not mean to imply any sloppiness even though it came out that way."
On January 3, 2021, President Trump tweeted, "The number of cases and deaths of the China Virus is far exaggerated in the United States because of [the CDC's] ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries". That same morning, Fauci responded in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press, "The numbers are real. We have well over 300,000 deaths. We are averaging two- to three thousand deaths per day. All you need to do ... is go into the trenches, go into the hospitals, go into the intensive care units and see what is happening. Those are real numbers, real people, and real deaths."
When asked if the 2021 United States Capitol attack was a COVID-19 superspreader event, Fauci stated: "I think for those people there, they probably put themselves at an increased risk because they essentially did not adhere to the fundamentals of public health and COVID-19 context which is universal wearing of masks, keeping physical distance, avoiding crowds in congregate settings. The fact that it was outdoors is a little bit better than if they were indoors completely. But you can still have a super spreader situation when you do things in a crowded way."
On January 23, 2021, Fauci was quoted saying that letting the science speak on the pandemic got him "into a little bit of trouble" and got "push-back from people in the White House, including the president", during the Trump administration. Fauci was also reportedly blocked from appearing on The Rachel Maddow Show for some time because the Trump administration "didn't like the way [Maddow handles] things and they didn't want me on [the show]."
On December 3, 2020, President-elect Joe Biden asked Fauci, in addition to remaining in his role as director of the NIAID, to serve as the chief medical advisor to the president in the Biden administration. Fauci accepted the offer.
After the inauguration of Joe Biden in January 2021, Fauci said he experienced a "liberating feeling" in being able to speak freely about science without interference from the new administration. He pictured Biden's administration as committed to being "completely transparent, open and honest". In early April 2021, Fauci said of the current situation in the United States that "It's almost a race between getting people vaccinated and this surge that seems to want to increase".
In early May 2021, when asked if the CDC's summer camp guidance was excessive, Fauci responded by saying that "I wouldn't call them excessive, but they certainly are conservative" and added that the guidance "looks a bit strict" and "a bit stringent". Also in early May, Fauci said that he is "not convinced" that COVID-19 originated naturally and that "we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened". In mid-May 2021, Fauci said that Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks outdoors, except for in "completely crowded situations". This guidance was updated in July 2021 to recommend that all people wear masks regardless of vaccination status, in what Fauci said was due to the much more contagious Delta variant.
In early June 2021, over 3,000 internal government emails sent by Fauci from January to June 2020 were obtained by media outlets through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. These emails contain information about how the United States and Fauci initially responded to COVID-19.
In December 2021, Fauci, along with virologist Jeffery K. Taubenberger and David M. Morens endorsed the development of a universal coronavirus vaccine, advocating in favor of "an international collaborative effort to extensively sample coronaviruses from bats as well as wild and farmed animals to help understand the full "universe" of existing and emerging coronaviruses."
In February 2022, Fauci told the Financial Times that "As we get out of the full-blown pandemic phase of Covid-19, which we are certainly heading out of, these decisions will increasingly be made on a local level rather than centrally decided or mandated. There will also be more people making their own decisions on how they want to deal with the virus."
In March 2022, Fauci said that the United States should expect an increase in COVID-19 cases from the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron, but that it might not lead to a severe increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
On April 27, 2022, Fauci said that the United States was "out of the full-blown explosive pandemic phase" of COVID-19.
On May 15, 2022, Fauci said that he would resign if Donald Trump wins the 2024 U.S. presidential election. In a July 2022 interview with Politico, Fauci had been reported to be "leaving by the end of President Joe Biden's term", though he later clarified he may step down from his role as NIAID director. Fauci also told Politico he is seeking to "help repair the widespread partisan polarization that has divided the nation and politicized science".
Owing to his prominent role in the United States response to numerous global pandemics, most notably HIV/AIDS and COVID-19, Fauci has become the subject of tributes and interpretations across various media, including television, literature, merchandising, and internet memes. Brad Pitt's performance as Fauci during the 2020 season of Saturday Night Live earned the actor an Emmy nomination, and praise from Fauci. Author Sally Quinn has credited Fauci as the inspiration for the love interest to the protagonist in her bestselling 1991 romance novel Happy Endings. Larry Kramer based the character Dr. Anthony Della Vida on Fauci in his play The Destiny of Me.
In the spring of 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, bakeries across the United States began selling pastries, particularly donuts, with Fauci's face on them to pay tribute to his work in the public health sector.
A highly critical book, "The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health", by Robert F. Kennedy Jr, was released in 2021. In response Fauci described the author as "a very disturbed individual". As of July 2022 the publisher claimed sales of over 1,000,000 copies.
Fauci has lived in the same house since 1977. In 1985, Fauci married Christine Grady, a nurse and bioethicist with the NIH, after they met while treating a patient. Grady is chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. Together they have three adult daughters.
On June 15, 2022, Fauci tested positive for COVID-19, experiencing mild symptoms. He is fully vaccinated and has received two booster shots.
Fauci makes $480,654 annually working for the NIAID, making him the highest paid U.S. government employee.
Fauci says he is an independent nonpartisan and his voter registration shows that he is not affiliated with any political party, although he still votes. Prior to 2020, he had positive relationships with both Democrats and Republicans and considered George W. Bush a close friend: "Obviously there's been appropriate controversy regarding decisions regarding Iraq", "but his moral compass about health equity is very strong.", saying that Bush did "by far" the most to combat HIV/AIDS through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that distributed lifesaving drugs in Africa. According to Fauci, "[Bush's] exact words to me were, 'We have a moral responsibility as a rich nation to not have people suffer and die merely because of where they live and the circumstances in which they were born'".
Fauci is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Philosophical Society, and the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, as well as other numerous professional societies including the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the American Association of Immunologists. He serves on the editorial boards of many scientific journals, as an editor of Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, and as an author, coauthor, or editor of more than 1,000 scientific publications, including several textbooks. On March 23, 2021, Fauci was admitted as an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.
Awards and honors
In addition to receiving an honorary degree in 2015, Fauci was invited to deliver guest remarks on May 21, 2020, for the Johns Hopkins University Class of 2020. Other notable guest speakers during the virtual ceremony included Reddit co-founder and commencement speaker Alexis Ohanian; and philanthropist and former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The College of the Holy Cross renamed its science complex the Anthony S. Fauci Integrated Science Complex on June 11, 2022.
Selected works and publications