Fauci awarded $1M prize from Israeli foundation for ‘defending science in the face of uninformed criticism’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, was awarded $1 million by the Dan David Foundation for "defending science in the face of uninformed criticism" during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Dan David Prize, which is based out of Israel, has three award categories representing three different time dimensions: "Past, Present and Future," according to the foundation’s website.

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FILE - Dr. Anthony Fauci director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and head of the US pandemic response.

"The Dan David Prize recognizes and encourages innovative and interdisciplinary research that cuts across traditional boundaries and paradigms. It aims to foster universal values of excellence, creativity, justice, democracy, and progress and to promote the scientific, technological and humanistic achievements that advance and improve our world," the website states.

Fauci, who was placed in the "Present" category, was lauded by the foundation for pioneering in the field of vaccine technology in his many years serving in public health, including his work with Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

FILE - Dr. Anthony Fauci receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health on Dec. 22, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland. (FILE - Dr. Anthony Fauci receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health on Dec. 22, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland.)

"In 2020, with the emergence of COVID-19, Dr. Fauci led NIAID’s research efforts to evaluate different vaccine approaches for the virus, building on the earlier vaccine technologies developed under his leadership for MERS and the first SARS virus that emerged nearly 20 years ago. Of particular importance was the mRNA platform that has proved so successful with vaccines using this technology now being given to millions worldwide," chairwoman of Present Time Dimension Committee Prof. Elizabeth Miller said.

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The longtime chief of the NIAID was praised as being a voice of reason and noted for his track record for serving as a trusted adviser for seven U.S. presidents.

The foundation highlighted Fauci’s past accomplishments, which included his work designing "PEPFAR (the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) under President George Bush, which has brought remarkable relief throughout the most devastated parts of the world, especially Africa."

Fauci is world-renowned for his role during past outbreaks such as SARS, MERS, Ebola and now COVID-19, the foundation stated.

"His courageous leadership in this very challenging COVID crisis has been noted worldwide, always vigorously defending the science in the face of uninformed criticism. Taken together, Dr. Fauci’s accomplishments and contribution are a testament to the value of a career devoted to improving global health and make him a worthy recipient of the Dan David Prize," Miller said.

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Previous recipients of the Dan David Prize include former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, novelist Margaret Atwood, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales and filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen.

Fauci has served on the White House coronavirus task force since its inception last year during then-President Donald Trump’s administration, and continues to serve in a top advisory role in Biden’s White House.

FILE - Members of the coronavirus task force speaking at a press briefing at the White House Feb. 29, 2020 in Washington, DC.

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In recent interviews, Fauci acknowledged that it was difficult at times to work for Trump, who repeatedly played down the severity of the pandemic, dismissed the need for mask-wearing and often touted unproven scientific remedies, including injecting disinfectant.

Trump reportedly resented Fauci's flattering press coverage and reveled in calls to "Fire Fauci!" at some of his rallies.

"It was very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based in scientific fact," Fauci said at a recent White House briefing. He added that he took "no pleasure" in having to contradict Trump.

Now, however, since accepting Biden’s offer to be the official White House health advisor, Fauci expressed he feels "liberated" under the new administration.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.