Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, has been the most public voice about how America should contain the COVID-19 pandemic. He often struggled when he was at odds with members of the Trump administration who were much less publicly alarmed about COVID-19. He was sometimes attacked for not being in lockstep with the president. The criticisms of him have not entirely ended.
Fauci has faced endless waves of the disease. The pace of the spread of COVID-19 had slowed across America. Increases in daily fatal and confirmed cases are still about half what they were seven weeks ago. Nevertheless, 560,601 Americans have died, which is about 20% of the world’s total. Confirmed cases have reached 30,925,269, or about 25% of the global number. Hospitalizations, which had reached over 100,000 during the peak wave, dropped into the thousands. However, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports they have begun to rise again in more than half the states.
To a large extent, this pace remains a race between vaccinations and the rising number of potentially dangerous variants. So far, 32% of the adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine and 18% are fully vaccinated. While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots, the one from Johnson & Johnson requires just a single dose. According to The New York Times, 207,891,295 doses have been delivered in the United States and 165,053,746 of them have been administered.
Variants of the disease are among the dangers epidemiologist and public health officials worry about. At least one, first identified in the United Kingdom, could soon account for most new U.S. cases. This variant also could be more deadly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently tracks three variants for the public. They have been found in all 50 states, and a number of other variants have emerged that the CDC does not report on to the public.
Additionally, much of the country has “opened up,” and this has caused worries that there will be a fourth wave of the disease. Just two weeks ago, the nation’s newspapers were filled with reports of large college parties in Florida with hundreds of people in close proximity without masks. More people flew over the Easter weekend than any other weekend since the start of the pandemic. This kind of activity has led to public health officials predicting that fourth wave.
Despite Dr. Fauci’s appropriate criticisms of reopening America before much of the public has been vaccinated, critics, who tend to lean to the right politically, have kept up the kind of attacks he faced under President Trump. Some of the most aggressive ones have originated with Senator Lindsey Graham who has described migrants at America’s southern border as a “super spreader event.” Additionally, Peter Navarro, who worked in the Trump administration, said, “Fauci is a sociopath and a liar. He had nothing to do with the vaccine. The father of the vaccine is Donald J. Trump. What is Fauci the father of? Fauci is the father of the actual virus.”
Fauci’s answer to these critics, according to the Guardian, was “I’ve been a symbol to them of what they don’t like about anything that has to do with things that are contrary to them, anything outside of their own realm.” As a public figure and voice of reason about COVID-19, he has taken on the wave of these criticisms. His reaction to the most recent ones: “How bizarre is that? Think about it for a second. Isn’t that a little weird? I mean, come on.” After more than a year of contending with comments like those from Graham and Navarro, Fauci continues to be unflappable.