Most of us have only recently gotten to know Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and the nation’s foremost expert on COVID-19. But Dr. Fauci’s expertise on infectious diseases dates back to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, a health crisis that, he explained in an interview premiering tomorrow on The Carlos Watson Show, motivated him to become an infectious disease doctor.
“Deep down, I knew we were dealing with a very new disease that was very likely sexually-transmitted,” Dr. Fauci said of AIDS, recalling the first US outbreaks among gay men. At the time, he had been studying different kinds of diseases but was not focused on infectious diseases primarily or the unknown illness working its way across the world. “I decided I was going to stop what I was doing and devote my entire attention to pursuing this new disease,” he said, embarking on a new career path.
Was there a similar alarm bell moment for Dr. Fauci when it came to COVID-19? Yes, he told Watson. He remembered getting a call from CDC director Robert Redfield, MD, at the end of 2019 notifying him of a “strange” strain of pneumonia spreading in China. It reminded him of the SARS virus, a coronavirus that spread inefficiently enough that public health measures quickly put an end to its outbreak in the early 2000s. “Is this another coronavirus that we’re dealing with?” Dr. Fauci wondered. His team had already been researching new types of vaccines, and immediately began to develop one for this novel virus. “Somewhere around February,” he recalled, “it became clear that this was not a disease that was inefficiently spread. It was spread very efficiently . . . at that point I knew, wow. We’re in for something that’s going to really be transformative.”
Watch the clip above and see Dr. Fauci’s full interview tomorrow on The Carlos Watson Show.