Confronting Trump over Covid not easy but necessary, Fauci says on Dublin trip

Director of US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says role has involved telling US presidents things they do not want to hear

Contradicting US president Donald Trump about the use of a drug to treat Covid-19 was “not easy”, but it was necessary due to the reality of medics’ responsibility for global health, leading American immunologist Dr Anthony Fauci has said on a visit to Dublin.

Dr Fauci served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States from 1984 to 2022 and has been a trusted adviser to seven US presidents on public health issues.

The immunologist became a familiar face globally during the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly after he corrected President Trump, who had suggested using hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus.

Speaking in Dublin Castle on Thursday evening, Dr Fauci said when he took up the role of director of the institute, he knew he would have to tell presidents information they did not want to hear.


“People who are extremists who attack me know think I did it [corrected him] because I wanted to undermine President Trump,” he said. “But I have a great deal of respect for the office of the presidency of the United States, no matter who is in the office.”

He said the one rule he gave himself while in the role was “to always speak the truth and not be afraid to give advice based on data and evidence”.

Dr Fauci (83) was speaking at an event during which he was awarded the Fulbright Commission’s public service award.

Speaking at the award ceremony on Thursday, Prof Diane Negra, Fulbright board chair emerita, said his “decades-long advocacy in public health” makes him an “outstanding recipient of the award”.

“Dr Fauci vividly exemplifies the core Fulbright commitment to meticulous, sustained and high-quality research and expertise in service to the public good,” she said.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Patrick O’Donovan said the world was “very fortunate” to have people of Dr Fauci’s calibre during the Covid-19 pandemic, who “ultimately saved lives”.

“History will be very kind to the contributions Dr Anthony Fauci paid,” he added.

It is the second Irish award presented to the scientist this week, after he received the Stearne Medal from the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland on Wednesday evening for his “contribution to medicine in Ireland”.

Throughout his career, he has been honoured with numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his dedication to public health and his efforts to advance medical knowledge and disease management strategies.

The Fulbright Commission in Ireland is an education programme that awards grants for Irish citizens to study, research, or teach in the United States, and for Americans to do the same in Ireland.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times