He is more recognizable than many politicians or athletes. During the last few years he has been the visible face of the campaign to face the COVID pandemic.
The same man appears on the podium of the White House, in front of television cameras or in front of the spotlight at popular events. At 81, Anthony Fauci is the closest thing to a rock star.
A second-generation American, Anthony Fauci was born on Christmas Eve 1940 in Brooklyn, where he picked up his unmistakable New York accent. His father Stephen was a pharmacist who graduated from the prestigious Columbia University and owned a pharmacy. His mother Lilian worked at the register and Anthony was the delivery man.
The Fauci saga is the story of the American Dream. Anthony’s grandparents immigrated to the United States of America from their native Italy in the 19th century. His maternal “nonni” (grandparents) came from Naples, the paternal from Sciacca.
In 1966 he graduated as a medical doctor from Cornell University, first in his class. Since then he discovered his passion for the science of infectious diseases.
Two years later he joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and rose to become the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. His career has been tied to the great medical battles of our time: HIV/AIDS, Ebola, COVID, Monkeypox and many more.
His scientific achievements include the development of medical therapies against incurable diseases and contributions on the functioning of the immune system, among others.
But I dare say that one of his most outstanding public battles was against a president at odds with science, Donald Trump.
It is a paradox that Fauci, the champion against infectious diseases, has had to defend himself and even receive personal protection for defending science against the irresponsible statements of the Trump era in relation to COVID.
But Fauci came out intact and will continue to do so despite the political vendetta that Republicans like Senator Rand Paul want to set up now that he has announced that he will leave the Biden administration as of December. If anything, their attacks will only further increase the stature of a man of integrity who has been respected by all but one president.
There is no doubt that we are going to miss Anthony Fauci. His voice of measure in the worst moments of the COVID pandemic was a great dose of relief in the face of the chaos that reigned in the Trump White House.
His personal and professional story is a source of inspiration for all and a testament to the importance of personal integrity and the value of science as the best medicine against lies.