TEL AVIV (NYTIMES) Dr Anthony Fauci, the veteran director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the public face of the battle against the pandemic in the United States, was the recipient of a US$1 million (S$1.33 million) Dan David Prize, an award headquartered at Tel Aviv University and dedicated this year to outstanding contributions in public health.
The prize awards a total of US$3 million a year to individuals and organisations for their achievements in three categories: expanding on knowledge of the past, enriching society in the present and promising to improve the future of the world. The theme of the prize varies from year to year.
Previous laureates include cellist Yo-Yo Ma, former Vice-President Al Gore, novelist Margaret Atwood and Dr Demis Hassabis, an artificial intelligence researcher, neuroscientist and entrepreneur.
Dr Fauci, 80, won in the “Present” category for his scientific contributions, including his research and his efforts to inform the public about the pandemic.
He “leveraged his considerable communication skills to address people gripped by fear and anxiety and worked relentlessly to inform individuals in the United States and elsewhere about the public health measures essential for containing the pandemic’s spread,” the organisers of the Dan David Prize said in a statement.
It added, “He has been widely praised for his courage in speaking truth to power in a highly charged environment,” a reference to Dr Fauci’s testy relations with former President Donald Trump and his supporters, who came to treat him as a villain.
The other Dan David Prize awards were shared this year by health and medicine historians Dr Alison Bashford, Dr Katharine Park and Dr Keith A. Wailoo in the Past category; and Dr Zelig Eshhar, Dr Carl June and Dr Steven Rosenberg, pioneers of an anti-cancer immunotherapy, in the Future category.