Dr. Anthony Fauci, director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attends a hearing for the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to investigate the COVID-19 response, with an emphasis on an update by federal officials on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 18, 2021.
Anna Money Maker | Swimming pool | Reuters
On April 12, 2020, an official from the National Institutes of Health emailed Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s foremost infectious disease expert, and then CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield, concerned about mounting hostilities between the US and the World Health Organization over the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am concerned about the recent US-WHO battle because it could interfere with current global efforts to control the spread of COVID-19,” the email read, which also includes questions about the accuracy of China’s Covid-19 19-Falls Raises and Death Data.
Fauci replied, “This pandemic has been extremely challenging for many countries around the world, including China and the US. All I can say is that I (and I’m sure Bob Redfield thinks the same) prefer to move forward look and not assign blame. ” or guilt. “
“There are enough problems ahead of us to tackle together,” he added.
Emergency medics (EMT) lift a patient diagnosed with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) into an ambulance while wearing protective clothing during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in New York City, New York , continues. USA, March 26, 2020.
Stefan Jeremiah | Reuters
The NIH official’s message, whose name has been blacked out, was released as part of a dump of thousands of Fauci’s emails from the first half of 2020 sent by BuzzFeed News and other media channels media by the Freedom of Information Act. As director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases within the NIH, Fauci was at the center of the storm.
The timid note and Fauci’s ominous response illustrate the chaos of the moment.
Covid cases and deaths in the US had since hit shocking new highs Trump declared the pandemic a national emergency a month before. Heads of state issued draconian lockdown orders that turned millions of lives upside down and sparked economic freefall. Testing, social distancing, and contact tracing were in their infancy, hospitals were overwhelmed, critical protective equipment was running out, and vaccines had yet to be developed.
United States President Donald Trump declares the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar listen during a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on March 13, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
The president, who praised China’s response to the emerging virus outbreak in January and February, had turned his tone sharplywho beat up WHO and Beijing and blamed both of them for the crisis.
Fauci had received emails from people in the days and weeks prior saying a pandemic was likely the official statement from WHO on March 11th, 2020.
Some asked him if they should cancel large face-to-face events while others spat out ideas for possible treatments and solutions to the outbreak. Some asked if he thought the Americans were adequately prepared.
Fauci showed patience, diplomacy, and diligence in his often late night responses to high-ranking US officials, famous artists, and ordinary people. The emails also reveal the tremendous physical and sometimes emotional toll the pandemic has taken on Fauci, who, amid a sometimes incoherent response from the Trump administration, had become one of the most trusted sources of information on Covid-19.
On February 18, 2020, Fauci received an email from a seemingly old acquaintance who asked if he was in town for a possible meeting over the weekend. Fauci apologized, wrote that he couldn’t connect, and asked if they could meet another time while he was working non-stop.
“The White House and HHS have kept me busy with the coronavirus crisis around the clock, including Saturday and Sunday. I’ve seen my wife … for a total of about 45 minutes in the past 10 days, “he wrote. “I hope you understand.”
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Center, speaks while U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (right) and Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator, listen during a press conference in the White House briefing room in Washington. DC, USA, on Monday March 2, 2020.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Until the end of March, when the USA had just over 153,000 Covid cases, Fauci apologized for taking so long to come back with another old friend and said he had received over 2,000 emails a day. In a separate email a few days later to Dr. J. Larry Jameson, a fellow doctor at the University of Pennsylvania, told Fauci he was “overwhelmed” and got “3 to 4 hours of sleep a night.”
His emails are peppered with pitches from people with very different levels of expertise who give their best guesses on how to deal with the ongoing crisis.
One person who came forward in early March, describing himself as “neither a doctor nor a scientist,” suggested that the government expose US adults to other known and “less fatal” coronaviruses in an attempt to establish some level of immunity to that develop new virus.
Fauci replied at 10:50 pm: “Thanks for your hint. AS Fauci.”
Quilter Ami Simms got in touch in mid-March to offer the NIH her services in the production of a pattern for face masks. She said she had mobilized quilters for other purposes in the past and that there were “millions of sewers that would be happy to help and help now”. Fauci forwarded the email to Dr. Andrea Lerner, a top doctor at his agency, continues.
Woman with homemade face mask
Isabel Pavia | Moment | Getty Images
His responses show that the input clogging the inbox wasn’t always welcome.
“Please read this and find out what he is talking about and act at your discretion,” Fauci wrote in an email to an NIH official dated March 7, 2020, referring to a message he had received , in which he claimed that a “game changer” was “for Covid detection.
“There are only 498 emails left tonight,” added Fauci.
The varied pieces of advice and questions Fauci received in those first few months showed how much leading US and international scientists, including Fauci himself, did not know about Covid at the beginning of the pandemic.
The question of masks came up early and often, and some of Fauci’s advice later turned out to be wrong.
In an email dated February 5, 2020 to American University President Sylvia Burwell, who served as HHS secretary under former President Barack Obama, Fauci advised against wearing a mask at the airport. “The typical mask you buy at the drugstore is not really effective at keeping out the virus that is small enough to penetrate the material,” he wrote.
Pedestrians wearing protective masks to stop the spread of a deadly virus that began in the Chinese city of Wuhan walk on Jan.
Charly Triballeau | AFP | Getty Images
Chinese immunologist George Gao turned to Fauci in late March to apologize for criticizing US mask policy. “How could I say such a word ‘big mistake’ about others? That was the journalist’s formulation. I hope you understand, ”Gao wrote on March 28th.
The US wouldn’t changes his mask instructions until July.
Some of the email chains also turned out to be eerily prophetic.
Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson reached out to Fauci on March 2, 2020 when it 91 confirmed cases in the USsaid NIH director Dr. Francis Collins told him that 5 to 20% of the country could be infected with Covid.
“A pandemic is likely to appear now,” he said. “Depending on the death rate, this could result in hundreds of thousands of deaths,” he wrote. Fauci said he was right. Even if the mortality rate was 1% and only 5% of the US population got it, “we could have a few hundred thousand dead,” he replied at 6:11 am.
An email dated February 1 from Fauci’s assistant director at the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Hugh Auchincloss, indicates that the agency was trying to determine whether it was involved in what is known as feature gain research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The lab has since been brought into the spotlight in the debate about the origins of the virus after media reports surfaced that at least three researchers there were sick enough with a Covid-like infection in November 2019 to be hospitalized.
During the visit by the World Health Organization (WHO) team tasked with investigating the origins of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) on February 3, 2021 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, security guards will be on guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Thomas Peter | Reuters
Fauci had sent Auchincloss a study published in Nature Medicine in 2015 entitled “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence”. The study was partially funded by NIAID and had multiple authors, mostly from well-known US institutions. However, one of them was based at the Wuhan Institute, where researchers used the controversial style of research that picks up a pathogen and makes it more deadly or contagious to study ways to control it.
“The paper you sent me states that the experiments were conducted before the reinforcement of the downtime but have since been reviewed and approved by the NIH. I’m not sure what that means as Emily is certain that no coronavirus work has gone through the P3 framework. She will try. ” to see if we have distant connections to this work abroad. “
US President Joe Biden said last month: he commanded US intelligence to give an in-depth look at the origins of Covid and to say that it is equally likely that it came from nature or leaked from a laboratory.
A respected infectious disease expert in the scientific community, Fauci’s high profile role and no-nonsense style as a leading authority on the pandemic made him a household name – and a reluctant pop culture icon, as his emails show.
“I couldn’t even have thought it up,” wrote Fauci on Jan. The Atlantic describes his rapid rise to “heartthrob” status amid the pandemic.
Brad Pitt as Dr. Anthony Fauci at the “Fauci Cold Open” on “Saturday Night Live” on April 25, 2020.
ABC | NBCUniversal | Getty Images
“Our society is really crazy,” wrote Fauci in response a similar piece documents “Fauci Fever” and the online “sexualization” of the now 80-year-old virologist.
His face was branded on clothing, food, and drink, and he was featured consistently in both the news and entertainment media. In an email dated March 31, Fauci responded to a Washington Post article about its “cult following” and called it “really surrealistic”.
“Hopefully this will all stop soon,” wrote Fauci. He added in a follow-up: “It’s not comfortable at all, that’s for sure.”
But the records show that Fauci was flattered by at least one portrayal of him: Brad Pitt’s version of Saturday Night Live. “Pitt was amazing,” Fauci wrote to a colleague on April 27th. “A reviewer on the SNL show said Pitt looked ‘just like me’. That statement made my year.”
“Now you have the answer to who would play you in the film,” replied Tara Schwetz, the deputy director of the NIH. Fauci indulged in the idea, “You could play the role of my medical school friend, which would give you the opportunity to work with Brad Pitt.”