Brooklyn-born disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says we may be on the brink of a pandemic

BOROUGHWIDE — Many people know the name of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

However, relatively few realize that the expert who has warned that the virus might be impossible to contain, and was subsequently barred by President Donald Trump’s administration from speaking out about the outbreak without permission from the White House, was brought up in Bensonhurst.

In an interview with CNN last week, Fauci explained the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic. “In China, it is an epidemic because it’s concentrated in China, but once you start to get other countries in which you have sustained transmissibility, then you really have the makings of a pandemic, pan meaning widely distributed,” explained Fauci.

“I think we are clearly on the brink of that because our fate is going to be determined by the abilities of countries outside of China that have travel-related cases and are now starting to develop sustained transmission from person to person to person,” he added.

Fauci further explained that when you have “these transmitted cases without any real ability to point to where it came from, that’s the makings of a pandemic. If you have multiple countries like that, then the horse is out of the barn and it’s going to be very difficult to prevent more cases from coming here to our own country,” he added.

Fauci was born in Brooklyn, the son of Italian immigrants, and spent his early childhood in Bensonhurst. After the family moved to Dyker Heights, his father, Stephen Fauci, a pharmacist, owned Fauci Pharmacy at 83rd Street and 13th Avenue, where the family lived in the upstairs apartment. Fauci went to Catholic schools in the community and worked at the pharmacy before gaining admission to Regis High School in Manhattan.

Photo courtesy of Academy of Achievement/
The Fauci family pharmacy and apartment, located on 13th Avenue and 83rd Street, Brooklyn, New York; Anthony Fauci (circled), as captain of the basketball team at the prestigious Jesuit school, Regis High School, circa 1958.

Fauci graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and went on to receive his medical degree from Cornell University Medical Center in 1966. He completed his internship and residency at New York Hospital – Cornell Medical Center.

In 1968, Fauci joined the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, as a clinical associate in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

In 1974, he became head of the Laboratory’s Clinical Physiology Section. During that time, he began treating patients with autoimmune diseases.

Within 20 years of working at NIAID, Fauci helped to increase substantially the funding for the organization. He also worked with President George W. Bush to help create the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS to address the HIV-AIDS pandemic in Africa. Thanks to his work, several million lives were saved throughout the world.

Fauci has received numerous awards for his accomplishments within the field of immunology and infectious disease, including the National Medal of Science for his scientific accomplishments in 2005. In 2007, President George W. Bush honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for Fauci’s role in creating PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Relief for AIDS Program.

In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, March 1, Fauci said that “community spread” cases of the virus, which cannot be directly traced to anyone, are becoming more prevalent in the United States.

“If you look at what has been done thus far in this country, it is correct that [the coronavirus] has been contained very successfully. We have not had communities spread from person-to-person — that is good news,” Fauci explained in a previous interview with Fox News.

“It might change, so … right now it is under control but that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down and think that it’s nothing to be concerned about,” added Fauci.

As of Monday, March 2, the coronavirus has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide, with more than 90,000 global cases reported and infections on every continent except Antarctica.

The U.S. has reported over 90 confirmed cases of the virus, with six deaths total, all in Washington State. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday that there has been one confirmed case in New York City, a woman in her late 30s who had traveled to Iran and is now quarantined in her apartment in Manhattan.

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