Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease official, was awarded a $1 million Israeli prize Monday for his leadership on HIV research and AIDS relief, his advocacy of COVID-19 vaccines, and for steadfastly defending science.
The awards committee of the Dan David Prize, affiliated with Tel Aviv University, praised Fauci for “speaking truth to power” amid the pandemic and “courageously defending science in the face of uninformed opposition during the challenging COVID crisis.” The committee also hailed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director as the “consummate model of leadership and impact in public health.”
As the “COVID-19 pandemic unraveled, [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,” the awards committee stated.
The statement didn’t mention former President Donald Trump and his anti-science supporters, but the target was clear. The unflappable Fauci steadfastly communicated the truth of the pandemic despite working with a hostile White House administration that repeatedly downplayed the crisis and eschewed health measures, like masks and social distancing. Fauci was even denied permission to discuss COVID-19 on specific programs, he revealed.
Established by the late Israeli philanthropist Dan David, the annual event awards three $1 million prizes for honoring the knowledge of the past, present contributions to society, and future advances. The award also sets aside 10% of the prize money for academic scholarships in each winner’s field chosen by the laureates.
Fauci won for achievement in the “present” in the field of public health. Historians Alison Bashford of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Katharine Park of Harvard University, and Keith Wailoo of Princeton University will share a $1 million prize for studying the history of health and medicine. Zelig Eshhar of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, Carl June of the University of Pennsylvania, and Steven Rosenberg of the National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute will share a $1 million prize for their work on anti-cancer immunotherapy.