Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was announced on Monday as one of the winners of the US$1 million Dan David Prize for "defending science" and advocating for COVID-19 vaccines.
The Israel-based Dan David Foundation said that Fauci had earned the recognition over a lifetime of leadership on HIV research and AIDS relief, as well as his advocacy for the vaccines against COVID-19.
The foundation, in a statement quoted by The Associated Press, credited Fauci with "courageously defending science in the face of uninformed opposition during the challenging COVID crisis."
"As the COVID-19 pandemic unraveled, (Fauci) 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 foundation's awards committee said, praising Fauci for "speaking truth to power in a highly charged political environment."
Fauci, 80, has served seven presidents and has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. President Joe Biden appointed Fauci as his chief medical advisor.
Fauci had a strained relationship with former President Donald Trump, who reportedly at one point considered demoting the top doctor after he criticized his policies.
In October, Trump was heard criticizing Fauci in a call with campaign staffers, suggesting he was an "idiot" and saying, "He's been here for, like, 500 years.”
In interviews he has given since Biden took office, Fauci has acknowledged that it was difficult at times to work for Trump. At his first press briefing after Biden took office, Fauci promised transparency when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
"One of the new things in this administration is if you don't know the answer, don't guess. Just say you don't know the answer," added Fauci.
The Dan David Prize, established in 2000, gives US$1 million awards in three categories each year for contributions addressing the past, present and future.
Fauci won the prize for achievement in the "present," in the field of public health.
Professors Alison Bashford, Katharine Park and Keith Wailoo, working in the field of history and health medicine, won the "Past" category. The pioneers of an anti-cancer immunotherapy, professor Zelig Eshhar, Dr. Carl June and Dr. Steven Rosenberg, won the "Future" category.