Fauci overwhelmed by calls after journal published mistake over beagle experiments

The nation's top infectious disease expert Anthony FauciAnthony FauciLet's stop saying 'breakthrough cases' — it isn't helping The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Trump-DeSantis tensions ratchet up MORE has been inundated with calls following a mistake in a scientific journal claiming that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) was funding experimental research on beagles.

The calls were so frequent that Fauci's assistant stopped answering the phone for two weeks in October, The Washington Post reported Friday.

He received 3,600 phone calls in 36 hours.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The constant harassment in the form of ridiculous accusations and outright lies makes doing my job and that of my staff of fighting the covid-19 pandemic all the more difficult,” Fauci told the Post. “This attack on me, which clearly has political overtones to a nonpolitical scientist, I feel, is dangerous to the entire field of science and [shows] how people try to intimidate scientists.”

According to the Post, Fauci received messages from impassioned and angry callers who went so far as threatening to "hang him."

Fauci and the NIAID were drawn into the controversy after a July edition of the PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases Journal published information that the federal agency was funding beagle experiments in Tunisia.

In those experiments, researchers infected the puppies with sand flies and trapped their heads in mesh cages. The NIAID has denied involvement with that study, and the journal later issued a correction in October. 

However, an animal rights organization, White Coat Waste Project, has continued to claim that Fauci and the NIAID funded the research.

ADVERTISEMENT

Other prominent Republican figures like Donald Trump Jr., former President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger welcomes baby boy Tennessee lawmaker presents self-defense bill in 'honor' of Kyle Rittenhouse Five things to know about the New York AG's pursuit of Trump MORE's eldest son, began selling T-shirts that read “Fauci Kills Puppies." In addition, far-right platforms such as 8kun were filled with memes about Fauci killing puppies, the Post reported. 

Fauci, who serves as President BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn't 'overpromise' Finland PM pledges 'extremely tough' sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE's chief medical adviser and has remained a leading adviser on the COVID-19 pandemic since it began, has received backlash for his recommendations to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

In particular, the public health expert has received backlash from Republican lawmakers and officials like Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulI'm furious about Democrats taking the blame — it's time to fight back Rand Paul cancels DirecTV subscription after it drops OAN Trump slams Biden, voices unsubstantiated election fraud claims at first rally of 2022 MORE (Ky.) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFlorida health official suspended amid investigation into vaccines for state employees George Conway: DeSantis plans for new police force to monitor elections 'just pathetic' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote MORE over his endorsement of the use of masks and vaccines. 

The issue regarding the beagles was highlighted when a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Fauci, demanding he answer his involvement with the Tunisia study.

Fauci did not comment on NIAID's involvement in animal research, but pointed out that any research carried out on animals by the agency must be compliant with regulations to ensure "commitment" to the animal subjects' welfare.