The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the US National Institutes of Health “is the consummate model of leadership and impact in public health,” the awards committee said in a statement.
The prize, associated with Tel Aviv University, awards three $1 million prizes for “achievements having an outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact on our world.”
Ten per cent of the prize money is set aside for academic scholarships in each winner’s field.
Other 2021 recipients include historians Alison Bashford of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Katharine Park of Harvard University and Keith Wailoo of Princeton University, who will share a $1 million prize for studying the history of health and medicine.
Zelig Eshhar of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, Carl June of the University of Pennsylvania and Steven Rosenberg of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health also will share a $1 million for work in cancer immunotherapy.
The nation’s leading infectious disease expert emerged as a face of the US response to the public health crisis amid a turbulent and insufficient federal effort under Donald Trump’s administration.
After the former president sidelined or removed him from the foreground of the federal response in the final months of his administration, Dr Fauci has returned to the White House under President Joe Biden, who enlisted Dr Fauci as a chief medical adviser.
Within hours of the president’s inauguration, Dr Fauci addressed the World Health Organisation to assure the agency that the US will honour its partnership and funding commitments, after Mr Trump antagonised the United Nations group and pledged to isolate the US from its global health efforts.
Dr Fauci has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, leading efforts to develop HIV treatments. In 2003, he helped launch the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief under then-president George W Bush.
The prize committee said Dr Fauci “leveraged his considerable communication skills to address people gripped by fear and anxiety and worked relentlessly to inform” the public about the spread of Covid-19.
“In addition, he has been widely praised for his courage in speaking truth to power in a highly charged political environment,” the committee said.