Fauci, the 80-year-old director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was apparently everywhere as the pandemic emerged, emerging in White House coronavirus task force briefings and doing interviews with an enormous selection of media outlets, answering questions fundamental and complicated since the dangerous new virus wreaked havoc on the U.S. and the planet.
Now a fresh window to Fauci's life and work has started, as thousands of pages of Fauci's work emails in the first months of the pandemic have been released to BuzzFeed and The Washington Post via Freedom of Information Act requests.
BuzzFeed has recently posted its entire trove here for public perusal. These are some things that we discovered as we pored through the record file.
Americans composed to Fauci with quite specific questions regarding what to do. Fauci provided advice.
Fauci obtained an email from someone planning a scientific seminar scheduled for July 2020 in Tampa, Fla.. The person wrote to Fauci requesting a forecast of what the effects of the virus would be afterward.
"There is not any method of knowing for sure. I would wait till May and see exactly what the dynamics of this outbreak are globally and make your decision then whether or not to cancel," Fauci responded.
1 lady wanted to know whether somebody who had been vaccinated against pneumonia could have any protection against COVID-19. "I understand you must be completely occupied and inundated with people wanting your time, I apologize that I have nothing to offer in return and totally understand if you don't have enough time to answer," she wrote.
Fauci responded an hour later, laying out distinctions between pure viral pneumonia and bacterial infections, and suggested that she get the pneumonia vaccine when she's over 65.
The woman was stunned to receive a response in the nation's top infectious disease expert.
"I honestly never expected you to reply and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so generous!"
A National Institutes of Health (NIH) colleague wrote to Fauci on March 4 to inquire whether the weekend's religious services ought to be canceled at a house of worship following a coronavirus event was apparently diagnosed.
He pushed back on the proposal that the Trump White House has been muzzling him.
Gonsalves wrote,"There are hundreds and hundreds of people awaiting advice from our national government on broader social distancing measures in light of the fact that our failure in early testing and surveillance signifies the coronavirus is likely already spreading in our communities"
"We all see is genuflection in deed and word from most of one to a White House that needs this all to go away," he went on.
Fauci replied a couple of hours afterwards:"Gregg: I'm surprised that you added me in your note. I genuflect to nobody but science and constantly, always speak my thoughts when it comes to public health. I've always corrected misstatements by others and will continue to do so."
Gonsalves replied to Fauci that"that part of the message was not directed at you. ... Bob Redfield and Secretary Azar haven't been as forthright as you have."
"Understood. I appreciate your note. I'll keep pushing," Fauci responded.
Fauci gets a lot of email -- and he replies to some surprising amount of it.
Fauci would get about 1,000 emails a day, he told the Post at a recent interview.
"I was getting every single sort of question, mostly those who had been a little bit perplexed about the mixed messages which were coming out of the White House and wanted to know what's the real scoop," Fauci told the paper. "I have a reputation that I respond to people when they ask for help, even though it takes quite a while. And it is very time-consuming, but I do."
Some of those who wrote were individuals in positions of power. Others were just thanking him for speaking clearly and forcefully during a period of crisis and fear.
"You do the right thing," wrote one man who appeared to understand Fauci, addressing him as Tony.
I hope all is well with you," Fauci responded.
One physician wrote to Fauci:"In my review of this data there's a negative association with smoking. Should smoking cessation be mentioned during public statements to help discourage smoking?"
Fauci replied 20 minutes after:"Smoking is terrible under any circumstance."
Occasionally regular people without medical or scientific training would write to him with hints of how the coronavirus works or thoughts they believed Fauci should research.
"Thanks for your notice," Fauci often replied.
He was uneasy with his sudden celebrity.
Fauci replied:"Truly surrealistic. Hopefully, this all stops soon."
"It isn't at all pleasant, which is for sure," Fauci added.
However he discovered a few upsides in fame too.
Fauci wasn't above taking the occasional perk of fame that was unexpected, at least as a baseball enthusiast.
A booking agent achieved to Fauci on behalf of Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman about appearing for a Q&A on the ballplayer's Facebook page.
An NIH communications officer replied:"As a big Nats enthusiast, Dr. Fauci very much wants to perform this chat with Ryan Zimmerman."
After arranging the meeting, the NIH staffer wrote to Fauci,"Ps -- what do you wish to bet you get invited to throw a first pitch next year?"
"I was thinking the very same thing," Fauci responded.
Indeed, Fauci took the mound for opening day in July 2020 in a red Nats mask and forced the first pitch. It was not a great throw.
Maybe he was tired from handling his overstuffed email inbox, one of the many, a number of different items on his plate at that time.