Fauci wins $1 million Israeli prize for ‘defending science’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease specialist, was awarded a $1 million Dan David Prize for “courageously defending science in the face of uninformed opposition during the challenging COVID crisis.”

The Israel-based Dan David Foundation on Feb. 15 named President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser as the winner of one of three prizes. It said he had earned 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.”

“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 foundation’s awards committee said, praising Fauci for “speaking truth to power in a highly charged political environment.”

Fauci, 80, has served seven presidents and has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.

The Dan David Prize, established in 2000, gives $1 million awards in three categories each year for contributions addressing the past, present and future.

The foundation is based at Tel Aviv University, where it provides grants to a number of programs in the humanities and social sciences. The foundation sets aside 10% of the prize money for scholarships.

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 U.S. 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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