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Dr. Fauci made the right house calls

Dr. Fauci made the right house calls
© getty: Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOne dose of Pfizer vaccine offers significant protection for those who have had COVID-19: studies Fauci: Whatever COVID-19 vaccine is available, 'take it' Julia Roberts presents Award of Courage to Fauci: 'You have been a beacon for us' MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, turns 80 this week. At a time when Americans desperately need heroes, there is no better choice as a national hero than the top doc who has led us through this nightmarish COVID-19 pandemic.

Firstly, Fauci should get a medal of honor for having endured political battles, including death threats, for his public service. He and his family have been harassed, at times requiring physical protection.

Despite the constant criticism, Fauci has not surrendered his principles or allowed himself to be crushed under the vicious weight of Washington’s games. President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE has vacillated between affection for Fauci and full-on assaults on his judgment. During the recent presidential campaign, Trump insulted Fauci, calling him a “disaster” and an “idiot” who has been around for “500 years.”

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Despite insults and rhetorical attacks, Dr. FauciAnthony FauciOne dose of Pfizer vaccine offers significant protection for those who have had COVID-19: studies Fauci: Whatever COVID-19 vaccine is available, 'take it' Julia Roberts presents Award of Courage to Fauci: 'You have been a beacon for us' MORE marches on, undeterred by politics and motivated by science and the public interest. That is what we need in government today at a time when Americans have lost confidence in our public institutions.

Wisely, president-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Biden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot MORE has asked Fauci to continue his service in 2021. Having advised six presidents on public health, Fauci is the man you want to navigate Americans back to safety from the virus’s assault. Together with Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Watch live: Biden surgeon general pick testifies at confirmation hearing The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help MORE, a former U.S. surgeon general, who is also joining the new administration, we have a “shot” at returning to some form of normalcy.

It is hard to predict the future, but Fauci’s warnings have been measured instead of hysterical, and most of what he told us sadly has come true — from the impact of community spread to the preparation for the downward slide during holidays and winter months. Hospitals and doctors are facing the surges and lack of ICU capacity that Fauci warned about over the last few months. 

Fauci has been the messenger-in-chief at a time of confusion. He rightly predicted the timeline for the vaccine. "Vaccines are really right on the horizon,” he said in November. “We'll be having vaccines available for the higher-priority people towards the middle and end of December and as we get into January and February.”

I am sure somewhere there is a master ledger with the number of talk shows, Zoom calls and appearances that Fauci has made throughout 2020 to counsel Americans on everything from masks to vaccines. Like a good sports coach, he has cheered us on with unrelenting faith in people to do the right thing even when we have failed to take his advice.

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My favorite Fauci appearance was the recent "Sesame Street" town hall with CNN when concern arose from a 6-year-old who asked about Santa Claus.

“Will Santa still be able to visit me in coronavirus this season?” the child asked. “What if he can’t go to anyone’s house or near his reindeer?”

Fauci assured good children that he wouldn’t let them be disappointed after making the nice list in a very tough year. The coronavirus expert anticipated Santa’s essential worker status and took matters into his own hands.

“I took a trip up there to the North Pole,” Fauci said. “I went there and I vaccinated Santa Claus myself. I measured his level of immunity, and he is good to go. ... Santa Claus is good to go.”

Dr. Fauci, you are good to go. I hope you have a happy birthday and merry Christmas. You deserve a day off, but something tells me you won’t take it. 

Tara D. Sonenshine is former U.S. under secretary of state for public diplomacy.