Head of the White House COVID-19 task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was awarded a prestigious $1 million Israeli prize Feb. 15.

The Dan David Prize, affiliated with Tel Aviv University, said it awarded Fauci the prize for his career in public health and “speaking truth to power” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fauci “is the consummate model of leadership and impact in public health,” the awards committee said in a statement.

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“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 awards committee said.

“In addition, he has been widely praised for his courage in speaking truth to power in a highly charged political environment.”

The Dan David Foundation also said Fauci “courageously [defended] science in the face of uninformed opposition during the challenging COVID crisis.”

Prof. Ariel Porat, president of Tel Aviv University and chairperson of the Dan David Prize Board, said, “The coronavirus pandemic has presented humanity with new challenges. Therefore, this year, we decided to honor the fields at the forefront of the battle against the virus – health and medicine. International review committees selected this year’s laureates for their pioneering work and their exceptional contributions to humanity in these fields, in three time dimensions – past, present and future.”

Ten percent of Fauci’s prize money will be set aside for academic scholarships. Fauci will have the opportunity to choose the criteria for the scholarship.

The COVID-19 pandemic drew more attention to Fauci’s name than ever before, as he regularly appeared in televised press briefings to inform the public about the pandemic.

Fauci has held the position of director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health since 1984, through seven different presidential terms.

His relationship with the 45th president was most likely more contentious than others.

“Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. This guy’s a disaster,” Trump reportedly said about Fauci.

Trump also said he was considering firing Fauci after the election if he won a second term.

“He’s been wrong on a lot. He’s a nice man, though. He’s been wrong on a lot,” Trump said.

Fauci was also critical of Trump at certain times, criticizing Trump’s recommendation of hydroxychloroquine. 

“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.

Written ByLinn Win

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