Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and a leading member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, is being given extra security after receiving online threats.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has deputized more than half a dozen of its inspector general special agents to protect Fauci upon recommendations of the U.S. Marshal Service, according to ABC News.
Fauci has been featured prominently during Trump’s regular coronavirus briefings, and has been a strong proponent of the social distancing measures advised by the Trump administration. Fauci has raised those calls for social distancing in recent days as the Trump administration has warned that the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. could hit a range of between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths.
Sources in the department could not reveal the nature of the threats against Fauci.
In one recent set of comments reported by CNN, Fauci was asked about antimalarial drugs touted by Trump as potential coronavirus treatments, though they have yet to be approved by the FDA. Fauci explained that “I, on the other side, have said I’m not disagreeing with the fact anecdotally [the antimalarial drugs] might work, but my job is to prove definitively from a scientific standpoint that they do work.”
Fauci also criticized media outlets for appearing to pit his views against those of the president, The Hill reported.
In one interview with NBC News, Fauci said that he has not been discouraged by the criticism and reported threats.
“I’ve chosen this life. I mean, I know what it is. There are things about it that sometimes are disturbing. But you just focus on the job you have to d0 And just put all that other stuff aside and try as best as possible not to pay attention to it. And just forge ahead,” Fauci said. “We have a really, really, very, very difficult situation ahead of us. All of that other stuff is secondary.”
Trump also appeared to reject the idea of a strained relationship with Fauci. During his Wednesday White House coronavirus press briefing, Trump said, “He doesn’t need security. Everybody loves him. Besides that, they’d be in big trouble if they ever attacked him.”