For some, he is a comforting figure, leading the nation through a disaster. For others, he is the face of government overreach, mismanagement and overreaction.
Fauci, the man who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), says the criticism and constant threats he and his family have received have taken a toll on him over time.
He blames former President Donald Trump and other conservative politicians for the nation’s current state of divisiveness, and some of the failures of America’s pandemic response.
Dr Anthony Fauci (pictured) told CBS’ Sunday Morning that much of the criticism and fury he has received during the COVID-19 pandemic is a result of divisiveness in the U.S. right now. Pictured: Fauci speaks in an interview with the CBS show
Fauci is pushing for more Americans to get vaccinated, though their is a split along party lines of who is getting the shots. A recent poll finds that 90% of Democrats and only 61% of Republicans have received the jab. Pictured: A woman in Los Angeles, California, receives a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine
‘You know, it’s very, very tough, because if you keep lying about someone and keep spreading preposterous accusations, that they’re going to be some people, if they hear that often enough, are going to believe it,’ Fauci said of some of the claims made about him on social media and in some conservative political and media circles, to CBS’ Sunday Morning over the weekend.
‘But that’s just the way it is. I can’t change the fabric of society about social media and how it works.’
Fauci has been in the crosshairs of many since the pandemic first began and he became a household name in the U.S.
In recent months, he has received calls to resign from multiple sources.
In October, it was revealed that NIAID had performed brutal animal testing experiments on dogs and monkeys under Fauci’s leadership.
After the report was revealed, Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, a Republican, joined a chorus of people calling for Fauci to resign.
Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, has also accused Fauci of covering up information related to gain of function research funded by the U.S. government at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Some believe that Covid, which originated in Wuhan, China, was developed by researchers at the WIV, and escaped when some got accidentally infected with it, in what is commonly referred to as the ‘lad leak theory’.
While the theory is unlikely, and health officials say the virus likely originated in bats, the theory has not yet been removed as a possibility.
Fauci admits that he can not be sure how exactly funding the U.S. gave to the WIV was used.
In the wake of these rumors, Sen Paul has also asked for Fauci to resign.
The strongest, and most bizarre, criticism of Fauci has come from Rep Madison Cawthorn, a Republican freshman congressman from North Carolina.
In October, Cawthorn called Fauci a ‘demon doctor’ and accused the NIAID director of enacting ‘policies [that] shuttered the U.S. economy, drove our country into financial upheaval and violated the rights of millions of Americans.’
As director of NIAID, Fauci is not in a legislative role and can not file, pass or enact laws in the U.S.
Guidance from Fauci often does help shape policy at the local, state and federal levels.
Cawthorn has also accused Fauci of playing a role in the creation of COVID-19, citing gain of function research performed at the WIV.
Fauci has also previously reported that he and his daughters have received death threats and harassment from those who oppose his stances of COVID-19 related mandates.
He partly blames misinformation, and former President Donald Trump for creating these conditions, and for why the pandemic spiraled out of control in the U.S.
‘When you have leadership, you know, denying that something is as serious as it is, then you have a real problem. So, in that respect, it could have gone differently,’ he said.
‘…One of the things that to me was most difficult to accept is that we put together a good plan for how we were going to try and dampen down the spread of infection early on, thinking that that was accepted by everybody. And then, the next day you have the president saying, ‘Free Michigan. Free Virginia.’
‘I didn’t quite understand what the purpose of that was, except to put this misplaced perception about people’s individual right to make a decision that supersedes the societal safety.’
Fauci said he and President Trump were not on speaking terms at some points during the pandemic.
He also said that he was alienated within the White House, and claims Trump enlisted his communications team to perform opposition research on him.
‘If we had a country where people realized the importance of a communal effort, then we could do that,’ Fauci said.
‘But that’s not where our country is right now. Our country is divisive.’
Fauci has defended himself against his most high profile critics, and has brushed off any calls to resign.
He continues to push for vaccination in the U.S., and believes that it is unnecessary for the country to be suffering thousands of deaths every week when there is a vaccine available.
‘We cannot accept a high level of deaths to COVID-19 when we have a vaccine that could prevent it,’ he said.
As on Monday afternoon, 68 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 59 percent are fully vaccinated.
Getting the vaccine has become a controversial topic, though, and one that has been split on party lines.
The Kaiser Family Foundation vaccine monitor found in late October than 31 percent of Republicans say they will ‘definitely not’ get vaccinated, compared to two percent of Democrats.
The survey also found that around 90 percent of Democrats had received the jab, compared to only 61 percent of Republicans.