The presence of Fauci, Americas top epidemiologist, is something of a national security issue in Corona times, debated in Harlem and Hollywood. That alone speaks for itself: The 79-year-old is considered the most believable voice in this crisis, while politics, money and ego obscure the eyes of others. And when Fauci is suddenly silent or completely disappears from the public, all alarm bells ring.
Others, that is: Donald Trump. Corona crisis over soon? “Things will get worse before they get better,” says Fauci. Malaria pills against Covid-19? “Anecdotal reports.” Shaking hands in the White House? “Shouldn’t we do.”
Unlike, for example, the one who often stands in front of him on the podium.
So: “Exactly what we’re dealing with.”
At the same time, this is worse than anything that even Fauci has experienced. He hasn’t been jogging every day for a long time, and he certainly doesn’t get enough sleep. Because this pandemic is now really calming him down.
That says something about someone who has not only wrestled with AIDS, but also with Sars, swine flu and Ebola. He has served among six often resentful US presidents without sacrificing his enthusiasm or reputation.
After graduation, Fauci went to the US research agency NIH. Since 1984, he has been the director of the NIH NIAID center, which deals with infectious diseases, immune deficiencies, and allergies.
Ebola and biological weapons
Fauci courted representatives of politics and the AIDS scene alike. Not everyone liked this balancing act. The spokesmen for the AIDS movement berated him as a “monster” and “murderer”, act-up icon Larry Kramer compared him to Adolf Eichmann. “I’m still angry with him,” Kramer told The New York Times in 2017. “He could have done a lot more.”
Fauci spread hope without raising expectations – a tightrope walk that he later did again and again, under George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama. He was instrumental in shaping Bush’s global AIDS initiative, working on bio-weapon drugs after the 9/11 attacks, and advising the Obama administration on the 2014 Ebola crisis.
And now Trump and the corona virus. Fauci’s moderate stance has rarely been in greater demand than now, as a plague strikes a president who refuses to recognize science from pride and egomania.
But a series of critical media interviews now seem to have Fauci in Trump’s sights. “I told the president things he didn’t want to hear,” he told the New York Times. “It’s a risky business.” Sometimes, he added in Science magazine, he would have to “repeat two, three, four times” until Trump heard it.
When Trump fabulated alleged conspiracies against him, Fauci smiled in the background and then buried his face in his hand. The gesture promptly became a viral internet meme.
Fauci then disappeared from the spotlight for days. Until he reappeared on Tuesday and was allowed to say a few uncontroversial sentences after Trump.
There is already a new hashtag for this: #FreeFauci.