Fauci: 'Low-life trolls harass my wife and kids'

time:2023-06-10 21:38:15source:Al Jazeera author:Press center8

America's top infectious disease expert, who became the face of the pandemic with his daily television updates, has spoken out against "low-life" trolls harassing his wife and children, figuring out where they live and their phone numbers.

"I have good security protection, but I really think it's so cowardly to harass people who are completely uninvolved, including my children," Dr Anthony Fauci told the BBC's Americast podcast.

Dr Fauci, who became a target for online conspiracy movements after advising on the Covid-19 pandemic, said he tries his best not to be distracted by online hate that "takes away from your ability to do your job".

As chief medical adviser to the US President he was the country's top medical expert and the voice of the government's pandemic response, during both the Trump and Biden administration, providing daily updates to the American public, encouraging mask use and vaccination.

He frequently clashed with former President Donald Trump, who once threatened to fire him.

Conspiracy theorists accused Dr Fauci of playing a key role in a sinister plot to control and harm people with Covid-19 and vaccines, contrary to the evidence.

Two people have previously been arrested and imprisoned in the US for what Dr Fauci described as "credible attempts on [his] life."

He warned about a "tsunami of misinformation and disinformation" in his country, including on social media. But he refused to comment on Twitter's recent decision to stop labelling and removing Covid-19 misinformation, because he feared being accused of "trying to suppress people's freedom of speech".

The 81-year-old is stepping down as chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden this month and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Dr Fauci has served under seven presidents, including Joe Biden, Donald Trump and Barack Obama, starting with Republican Ronald Reagan during the HIV AIDS epidemic.

But he was thrust further into the public eye during the Covid-19 pandemic, where decisions he and other scientific advisers made about restrictions and medical advice were under scrutiny.

At times, he clashed with Donald Trump's approach to managing the pandemic.

He said it was not easy to publicly disagree with a sitting president and that it "generated an extraordinary amount of hostility" from "far-right" activists in the US.

When asked whether the severity of lockdowns in some American states was misjudged, Dr Fauci disagreed.

He dismissed the approach taken by Sweden, which did not immediately go into lockdown, but advocated voluntary social distancing.

"I would not under any circumstances adopt the Swedish model because if you look at the deaths and hospitalisations in Sweden compared to other Scandinavian countries, it's much, much worse," Dr Fauci told Americast.

Dr Fauci, who will turn 82 on 24 December, said he will continue to work in healthcare.

Listen to the full interview with Dr Anthony Fauci on Americast on BBC Sounds

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