Dr Anthony Fauci has said he thought he might die when he was covered in white powder from a letter sent in the wake of death threats against him and his family.
The infectious diseases expert, 80, detailed how he opened the note received in the mail to be covered in what turned out to be 'a benign nothing'.
He told The New York Times in an interview published Sunday: 'But it was frightening...I looked at it somewhat fatalistically.
'It had to be one of three things: A hoax. Or anthrax, which meant I’d have to go on Cipro for a month. Or if it was ricin, I was dead, so bye-bye.'
Dr Fauci called it 'liberating' Thursday to be backed by a science-friendly administration since the inauguration of Joe Biden. More than 25 million Americans have been infected by the coronavirus and at least 417,000 have died since March 2020, when the pandemic began.
Reflecting on his time working with the Trump administration, he said the former president would listen to his business friends over science and the experts.
Fauci, who has now served under seven presidents, said: 'He would take just as seriously their opinion — based on no data, just anecdote — that something might really be important.
'It wasn’t just hydroxychloroquine, it was a variety of alternative-medicine-type approaches. It was always, “A guy called me up, a friend of mine from blah, blah, blah.” That’s when my anxiety started to escalate.'
'There were a couple of times where I would make a statement that was a pessimistic viewpoint about what direction we were going, and the president would call me up and say, “Hey, why aren’t you more positive? You’ve got to take a positive attitude. Why are you so negativistic? Be more positive.”'
Anthony Fauci has said he thought he might die when he was covered in white powder from a letter sent in the wake of death threats against him and his family. Fauci, right, Dr. Deborah Birx, left, listen as President Donald Trump speaks on March 20 last year
Fauci said he received his first death threat on March 28, adding: 'They knew where my kids work, where they live.
'The threats would come directly to my children’s phones, directly to my children’s homes. How the hell did whoever these assholes were get that information?'
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases had to have a security detail due to the threats.
He has already said he was muzzled by the Trump administration which 'blocked' him from appearing on the left-leaning MSNBC cable news channel and its marquee primetime star Rachel Maddow.
Fauci's highly visible schedule on Thursday, the first full day of President Joe Biden´s term, underscored the new administration's confidence in the doctor but also the urgency of the moment.
'One of the new things in this administration is, If you don´t know the answer, don´t guess,' Fauci said in one pointed observation during a White House briefing. 'Just say you don´t know the answer.'
Fauci has already made clear that he believes the new administration would not trade in the mixed messages that so often came from the Trump White House, where scientific fact was often obscured by the president´s political agenda.
In March, as Fauci stood behind Trump at the podium in the briefing room, the doctor appeared to chuckle to himself before covering his face with his palm as Trump railed against 'the Deep State Department.'
He said Sunday: 'The people around him, his inner circle, were quite upset that I would dare publicly contradict the president.'
But asked if he ever considered resigning Fauci said: 'Never. Never. Nope.'
Dr Fauci said Trump did not consult him when he fell ill with COVID-19.
Speaking Thursday, Fauci acknowledged that it had been difficult at times to work for Trump, who repeatedly played down the severity of the pandemic, refused to consistently promote mask-wearing and often touted unproven scientific remedies, including a malaria drug and even injecting disinfectant.
'It was very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based in scientific fact,' Fauci said.
He added that he took 'no pleasure' in having to contradict the president, a move that often drew Trump´s wrath.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks with Dr. Anthony Fauci during a press briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Thursday
Dr Fauci, right, called it 'liberating' Thursday to be backed by a science-friendly administration since the inauguration of Joe Biden, center. The two men are pictured with VP Kamala Harris
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, with (L-R) US Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump and Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx pictured in April last year
Biden, during his presidential campaign, pledged to making Fauci his chief medical adviser when he took office, and the 80-year-old scientist was immediately in motion.
The doctor went from being a constant presence in the briefing room during the first weeks of the pandemic to largely being banished. Moreover, Trump frequently undermined Fauci´s credibility, falsely insisting that the pandemic was nearly over.
Fauci said Friday that the Trump administration likely cost American lives during the coronavirus pandemic with its false facts and messages.
In a candid interview with CNN's John Berman, Fauci said trust had to be restored with the American people now that President Donald Trump has left office.
'People were not trusting what health officials were saying. There was great divisiveness. Masking became a political issue,' Fauci said on CNN's 'New Day.
When Berman asked him if the lack of candor during the Trump administration cost lives, Fauci said yes.
'You know, it very likely did. I don't want that, John, to be a sound bite, but if you just look at that, you can see that when you're starting to go down paths not based on any science at all -- and we've been there before. I don't want to rehash it. That is not helpful at all. Particularly when you're in the situation of almost being in a crisis with the number of cases and hospitalizations and deaths we have,' the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.
But asked if Trump cost lives he added Sunday: 'I can’t comment on that. People always ask that and … making the direct connection that way, it becomes very damning. I just want to stay away from that. Sorry.'
Dr. Deborah Birx has also claimed she was 'censored' by the White House and 'always' considered quitting Donald Trump's coronavirus taskforce
Birx said the former president was being fed ‘parallel’ data sets on the pandemic from another source inside the White House and ‘presented graphs’ she never made.
She added that there were people inside the Trump administration who ‘definitely believed’ the virus was a hoax.
Fauci made his first appearance at Biden's side on Thursday, when the president called for the nation to summon a 'full scale war-time effort' to beat back the coronavirus.
Biden also signed new executive orders to speed vaccine delivery and called wearing a mask a patriotic duty.