There’s a big difference between the Anthony Fauci who tackled AIDS versus the one who tackled COVID: arrogance.
In his new memoir, On Call, Anthony Fauci portrays himself as a hero—and he was. (Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

‘AIDS Fauci’ vs. ‘Covid Fauci’

There’s a big difference between the man who tackled the ’80s epidemic compared to this decade’s scourge: arrogance.

In his new memoir, On Call, Anthony Fauci devotes tremendous energy and space to his role during the AIDS crisis—with good reason. Despite having spent, at that point, more than a decade as a government health bureaucrat, the 44-year-old scientist could see that the federal government wasn’t devoting enough resources to AIDS research, and that the hurdles required to get a new drug approved made little sense when so many young gay men were dying without access to drugs that just might help them stay alive.

Fauci successfully fought for more research dollars, and he also helped tear down those hurdles so that AIDS patients could try drugs even though they didn’t have the final stamp of approval from the Food and Drug Administration. He portrays himself as a hero in his book—and he was.

Fauci also devotes tremendous energy and space to his role during the Covid crisis. By then, he was 79 years old, with 52 years in government, including the last 36 as the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He was the government’s chief scientific voice during the pandemic, and he again portrays himself as a hero of the crisis in his book.

But this time he absolutely was not. In fact, his role in the crisis is a big reason why public health officials are now held in such low esteem.

The man who tackled the AIDS crisis was very different from the man who advised presidents—and the country—about Covid-19. The country would have been far better served during the pandemic with the man I’ve come to think of as “AIDS Fauci” rather than “Covid Fauci.”

This post is for paying subscribers only


Already have an account? Log in

our Comments

Use common sense here: disagree, debate, but don't be a .

the fp logo
comment bg

Welcome to The FP Community!

Our comments are an editorial product for our readers to have smart, thoughtful conversations and debates — the sort we need more of in America today. The sort of debate we love.   

We have standards in our comments section just as we do in our journalism. If you’re being a jerk, we might delete that one. And if you’re being a jerk for a long time, we might remove you from the comments section. 

Common Sense was our original name, so please use some when posting. Here are some guidelines:

  • We have a simple rule for all Free Press staff: act online the way you act in real life. We think that’s a good rule for everyone.
  • We drop an occasional F-bomb ourselves, but try to keep your profanities in check. We’re proud to have Free Press readers of every age, and we want to model good behavior for them. (Hello to Intern Julia!)
  • Speaking of obscenities, don’t hurl them at each other. Harassment, threats, and derogatory comments that derail productive conversation are a hard no.
  • Criticizing and wrestling with what you read here is great. Our rule of thumb is that smart people debate ideas, dumb people debate identity. So keep it classy. 
  • Don’t spam, solicit, or advertise here. Submit your recommendations to if you really think our audience needs to hear about it.
Close Guidelines