Dr. Anthony Fauci received around 1,000 emails a day during the COVID-19 pandemic as he attempted to provide the White House with a scientific perspective

By Julie Mazziotta
June 02, 2021 12:25 PM
Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci
| Credit: Susan Walsh/AP/Bloomberg via Getty

Over the last 16 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been one of the public faces of the White House's response to the virus as he attempted to provide a scientific perspective.

With daily appearances at White House briefings and on cable news as he urged Americans to stay home and stay safe from the deadly virus, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, worked through the day and well into the night. And as the virus spread in the U.S. and he became a key member of the White House COVID-19 response team under President Donald Trump, and then President Joe Biden, Fauci received around 1,000 emails a day, from everyone from members of Congress to the NFL Players Association, from Bill Gates to random Americans who tracked down his email address.

This week, Buzzfeed News and the Washington Post obtained thousands of Fauci's emails through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.

On Feb. 28, 2020, early in the pandemic, Fauci heard from a woman who had found his email address and expressed her frustration that "Vice President Pence has ordered you to not inform the public about Coronavirus without approval. This is quite terrifying, especially since Trump has already shown his desire to spread false or incomplete information about this public health crisis," Buzzfeed reported.

Though the woman was a stranger, Fauci wrote back that "there is much misinformation," and that "I actually have not been muzzled at all by the Vice President."

A month later, on March 28, Fauci heard from a top Chinese health official, George Gao, who had been quoted in Science magazine saying that the U.S. was making a "big mistake" by not telling people to wear masks. Gao wrote to apologize to Fauci, a longtime friend, worried that he would think the comment was attacking him.

"I saw the Science interview, how could I say such a word 'big mistake' about others? That was journalist's wording. Hope you understand," Gao, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in an email, according to the Post. "Lets work together to get the virus out of the earth."

"I understand completely. No problem," Fauci responded. "We will get through this together."

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Two weeks later, amid threats from Trump supporters who believed that Fauci's pandemic advice was ruining the economy, he again heard from Gao.

"I saw some news (hope it is fake) that [you] are being attacked by some people. Hope you are well under such a irrational situation," Gao wrote on April 8.

"Thank you for your kind note," Fauci wrote back. "All is well despite some crazy people in this world."

Among the thousands of emails, Fauci was asked to write op-eds for Italian media outlets, conduct a telephone briefing for the NFL Players Association to talk about the possibility of a football season, and to speak with Bill Gates about vaccine progress.

anthony fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci receives Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine
| Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock

In mid-April, Fauci emailed with Rep. Fred Upton, a moderate Republican from Michigan, who asked to clarify statements Trump had made about hydroxychloroquine and the pandemic response.

"Keep being a science truth teller," Upton told the infectious diseases expert.

Some of the emails were light, too. As Fauci's fame rose and his face was emblazoned on socks and T-shirts that said "In Fauci We Trust," he expressed his surprise to aides.

"Click on the 'Cuomo Crush' and 'Fauci Fever' link below. It will blow your mind. Our society is really totally nuts," Fauci wrote in an April 8, 2020 email, Buzzfeed reported.

Fauci enjoyed, though, seeing Brad Pitt playing him on Saturday Night Live later that month.

"One reviewer of the SNL show said that Pitt looked 'exactly like me.' That statement made my year, " Fauci wrote to a colleague.