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Dr. Anthony Fauci wins Israel’s prestigious $1m. Dan David Prize for 2021

America’s top official on the coronavirus pandemic recognized by Tel Aviv University foundation for ‘extraordinary contribution to humanity’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, January 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, January 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

AP — Dr. Anthony Fauci has won the $1 million Dan David Prize for “defending science” and advocating for vaccines now being administered worldwide to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The Israel-based Dan David Foundation on Monday named President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser as the winner of one of three prizes. It said he 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.

In its statement, the private foundation did not mention former president Donald Trump, who undermined Fauci’s follow-the-science approach to the pandemic. But it credited Fauci with “courageously defending science in the face of uninformed opposition during the challenging COVID crisis.”

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 speaks during a visit to the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health, February 11, 2021, in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens at right. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In recent interviews, Fauci has acknowledged that it was difficult at times to work for Trump, who repeatedly played down the severity of the pandemic, dismissed the need for mask-wearing and often touted unproven scientific remedies, including injecting disinfectant.

Trump resented Fauci’s flattering press coverage and reveled in calls to “Fire Fauci!” at some of his rallies. But Fauci outlasted Trump, who lost the November election.

“It was very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based in scientific fact,” Fauci said at a recent White House briefing. He added that he took “no pleasure” in having to contradict the president.

Biden’s election, Fauci said, was “liberating.”

Then-US president Donald Trump (L) listens as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on April 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP/Alex Brandon)

The Dan David Prize, established in 2000, gives $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, the foundation said.

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.

Foundation Director Ariel David, son of the prize founder, said this year’s laureates “have probed how humanity has dealt with sickness and pandemics throughout history; they have provided relief, guidance and leadership in dealing with current outbreaks… and they are at the forefront of discovering new treatments that give us hope for the future in the ongoing battle against cancer and other diseases.”

Previous recipients of the Dan David Prize include former US vice president Al Gore, former British prime minister Tony Blair, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, novelist Margaret Atwood, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, and filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen.

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