Anthony Fauci in an interview with the BBC blasted the “cowardly” internet trolls who harass his wife and children, saying it’s a part of the backlash he’s experienced over the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These people who troll about, they harass my wife and my children because they can figure out where they live and what their phone number is,” the immunologist told BBC’s “Americast” podcast.
Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the White House, has been the public face of the government’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s set to retire from government service at the end of the month.
Fauci said those close to him have regularly been harassed since his appointment in 2020 to fight COVID-19, while the doctor himself is a target of conspiracies and right-wing hate.
“I have good security protection, but I really think it’s so cowardly to harass people who are completely uninvolved, including my children,” he said.
Trolls have periodically released the addresses and phone numbers for Fauci’s wife and children and found other ways to reach them with extremist theories and rhetoric.
Fauci, however, said paying attention to hate “takes away from your ability to do your job” and that he tries to avoid it.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director has faced many death threats, along with two more serious murder attempts for which would-be perpetrators have been imprisoned.
One of Fauci’s higher-profile opponents was former President Trump, under whom he served during the first year of the pandemic.
The doctor told the BBC that it was difficult to work with the Republican, who is running for president in 2024 after losing to President Biden in 2020, especially because their disagreements “generated an extraordinary amount of hostility” from those on the far right.
Fauci held to his opinions about strict lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic and their potential to limit deaths from COVID-19, criticizing the Swedish model of voluntary social distancing. He told the BBC that the U.S. was taken over by a “tsunami of misinformation and disinformation” during the pandemic, which he says still persists.