Ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been at the forefront of providing Americans with the right insight and guidance on how to defeat the virus. From answering dozens of questions on screen to replying to hundreds of emails off-camera, the National Institute of Health Specialist has been the embodiment of a helping hand.
Buzzfeed News along with the Washington Post has published more than 3,200 pages of emails from Fauci’s inbox, after obtaining due correspondence from him. His conversations date from January 2020 to June 2020 and offer a peek into the early days of the pandemic, his talks with the government, health officials, celebrities, and American netizens.
The emails provide valuable insight into Dr. Fauci and his team’s early deductions of the virus including how COVID-19 may have leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. An email to Fauci from the director of the world’s largest biomedical research facility suggests the “unusual features” of the virus, thus hinting at the possibility of the strain being “engineered.”
In response, Fauci commented that he would reach out by phone. This controversial theory had gained immense popularity last year, only to be dismissed by experts who claimed it was “extremely unlikely.” However, recently the possibility of the virus being designed has once again sparked a debate on social mediums. This May, Fauci expressed his hesitancy on believing that the virus originated naturally and supported an investigation to get to the root cause of the matter.
The early months of the pandemic also witnessed the US government’s muddled outlook to combat the virus. In February 2020, Fauci’s email exchange with a former health secretary read: “Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading the infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection.” Later, he also added that masks widely available in stores are not effective in protecting from the virus, as it is “small enough to pass through the material.”
Despite falling on the receiving end of brutal criticism, Dr. Fauci has remained poised in his advice to control the raging pandemic. His email correspondence is not only a testament to his excellent work ethic but also a sign of the weight that came with embracing such a significant role. In an email dated February 2, Fauci wrote: “This is White House in full overdrive and I am in the middle of it.” Just two days later, he responded to a journalist saying, “I am really tired. Not much sleep these days.”
Howard Bauchner, editor in chief of JAMA, sent an email to Fauci on February 5 with a note expressing concern and fear about his health. According to the emails extracted by BuzzFeed, Fauci had replied to Bauchner stating how he was “hanging in there.” His work fatigue knew no bounds as he voiced out his exhaustion in an interview with Wolf Blitzer in June: “I’m chronically fatigued, I don’t get a lot of sleep.”
However, his exhaustion never came in the way of helping Americans deal with the virus that was spreading through the state like wildfire. His exchanges were always pleasant and seemed to offer a much-needed hope in testing times. Even whilst being “chronically fatigued,” Fauci did not shy away from offering his guidance whenever required. In late February, when a doctor emailed him about a patient that may have contracted the virus, Fauci not only helped him get through the next steps but also cordially replied saying, “Do not hesitate to call or e-mail me.”