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The Voice of Experience


Anthony Fauci
Photo: NIAID/Alamy

Anthony Fauci’s ties to AU run deep. 

The nation’s top infectious disease expert—who’s helmed America’s response to such public health crises as HIV/AIDS, the swine flu, and now, COVID-19—jogs past the university on New Mexico Avenue every morning, often waving to friend, former colleague, and fellow runner, President Sylvia Burwell. 

Running is “absolutely essential to my mental health,” the 79-year-old marathoner said during a virtual event hosted by the Kennedy Political Union on October 6. “You come back from an intense day either in front of Congress, in the White House, in a lab [and] I gotta get outside.” 

The hourlong chat with Burwell—who worked with Fauci as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services from 2014 to 2017—came just four days after President Trump tested positive for COVID-19. Although the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases tries not to wade into politics, he was emphatic that they have no place in a pandemic.

“When you and I were struggling through Ebola and Zika,” he said to Burwell, “there were disagreements, but we always knew that the enemy was the virus. It wasn’t the person who disagreed with you. When you make public health measures an oppositional position, you’ve essentially lost the game.

“Everybody’s got to be pulling together in the same direction,” he continued. “You can’t have divisiveness and rancor in public health messages—it gets in the way of getting the job done.” 

With swaths of unmasked Americans continuing to shun the social distancing practices Fauci has been preaching since March, he predicts another spike as temperatures drop and people move indoors, where the virus is more easily transmitted.

“People call it a second wave, but it’s really a resurgence of the current wave we’re in. And right now a resurgence doesn’t look pretty,” he said, with models predicting a deadly winter. 

Fauci, who received an honorary doctorate from AU in 2018, offered a sunnier forecast for colleges, universities, and students everywhere craving a return to normalcy. 

“I’d like to say spring, but I think it’s much more likely as we get into the summer and fall . . . and a good chunk of the public is vaccinated [by the third quarter of 2021] that we can think about in-person being the rule and not the exception. We will get there.”