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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

After becoming a top punching bag for the right, Dr. Anthony Fauci is defending himself with a sharp new edge, arguing that an attack on him is an attack on science.

What he's saying: In comments to Kara Swisher on her New York Times "Sway" podcast, shared first with Axios, Fauci says: "It is essential as a scientist that you evolve your opinion and your recommendations based on the data as it evolves. ... And that's the reason why I say people who then criticize me about that are actually criticizing science."

"[T]he people who are giving the ad hominems are saying, 'Ah, Fauci misled us. First he said no masks, then he said masks,'" Fauci said on the podcast, which drops tomorrow. "Well, let me give you a flash. That's the way science works. You work with the data you have at the time."

  • "It was not a change because I felt like flip-flopping. It was a change because the evidence changed, the data changed."
  • "[I]t isn't a question of being wrong. It's a question of going with the data as you have, and being humble enough and flexible enough to change with the data."

After 37 years in his job, Fauci said puts "very little weight in the adulation, and very little weight in the craziness of condemning me."

  • "[I]t gets preposterous, and the thing that bothers you most of all is the impact it has on your family. "
  • "I mean, getting death threats and getting your daughters and your wife threatened with obscene notes and threatening notes is not fun. So I can't say that doesn't bother me."
  • "The more extreme they get, the more obvious how political it is ... 'Fauci has blood in his hands.' Are you kidding me? ... Here's a guy whose entire life has been devoted to saving lives, and now you're telling me he's like Hitler? You know, come on, folks. Get real."

Go deeper: Hear "Sway."

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Go deeper

Monster risk: Fauci says COVID cases 10x too high

Anthony Fauci at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing in May. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Americans are now getting infected with COVID-19 at 10 times the rate needed to end the pandemic, which will persist until more people get vaccinated, NIAID director Anthony Fauci tells Axios.

Threat level: "The endgame is to suppress the virus. Right now, we're still in pandemic mode, because we have 160,000 new infections a day. That's not even modestly good control ... which means it's a public health threat."

Sep 7, 2021 - Health

Fauci slams DeSantis over "completely incorrect" COVID vaccine comment

Photos: Stefani Reynolds-Pool and Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci in an interview with CNN Tuesday pushed back on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) claim last week that getting the COVID vaccine should be a personal choice that "really doesn't impact me or anyone else."

What he's saying: "When you're dealing with an outbreak of an infectious disease, it isn't only about you," said the nation's top infectious diseases expert. "There's a societal responsibility that we all have."

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
38 mins ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.