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Anthony Fauci in June. Photo: Al Drago/AFP via Getty Images

Over 3,000 public health officials signed an open letter to President Trump, criticizing the efforts of White House officials to discredit Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Why it matters: Signatories include two former directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two previous commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration, a former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and a former U.S. surgeon general.

  • Former FDA associate commissioner Peter Lurie and Gregg Gonsalves, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, drafted the letter.

What they're saying: “This week and last, the White House mounted a campaign to discredit one of our nation’s leading scientific experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci ... who has advised six Presidents on epidemics from HIV to SARS, from Ebola to H1N1 influenza,” the letter reads.

  • "Since the beginning of the pandemic, he has remained one of the world’s most trusted scientists on COVID-19, daily explaining in lay terms the complexity of an illness we still don’t fully understand."
  • "And he has done so by placing science front and center in the public discourse. Attempting to marginalize highly respected researchers such as Dr. Fauci is a dangerous distraction at a time when we most need voices like his."
  • "Now is not the time to turn our backs on science."

The big picture: Trump called Fauci "a little bit of an alarmist" in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday.

  • Fauci told The Atlantic last week that efforts to discredit him are "bizarre" and that it "ultimately hurts the president" to undermine a top health official in the middle of a pandemic.
  • He noted that he was not invited to Trump's Tuesday coronavirus briefing, and that he most recently spoke to the president last week.

Go deeper... Fauci on who to trust amid coronavirus: "Stick with respected medical authorities"

Go deeper

Oct 29, 2020 - Health

Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, testifies during a September Senate hearing on COVID-19 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told the Journal of the American Medical Association on Wednesday he doesn't expect a COVID-19 vaccine to be ready until January 2021 or later.

What he's saying: Fauci said during the interview that the U.S. was in a "bad position" after failing to keep case numbers down post-summer. "We should have been way down in baseline and daily cases and we’re not," he said.

What the 2020 election means for science

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 presidential election presents two stark paths for the direction of future-focused scientific research.

Why it matters: Science is a long game, with today's breakthroughs often stemming from research carried out decades ago, often with government help. That means the person who occupies the White House over the next four years will help shape the state of technology for decades into the future.

Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president"

Michael Caputo. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

In September, Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo privately pitched one branch of the agency's $250 million coronavirus ad campaign with the theme: "Helping the President will Help the Country," according to documents released by House Democrats on the Oversight Committee on Thursday.

Why it matters: These are the latest documents that suggest the deep politicization of the Trump administration's coronavirus response.