Dr. Anthony Fauci doesn’t love how he became an icon during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
The former chief White House medical advisor told BBC he was uncomfortable with both the “over the top adulation” and the “over the top hate” he received after becoming a central figure in the fight against COVID-19.
“We’re living in an era of profound divisiveness,” he told the network about his public perception.
“I don’t like the extremes,” Fauci went on. “It is not realistic, that doughnuts are made with my face on them, candles with my picture on them. That is weird. And that’s not positive.”
He seemed especially perplexed by the idea of being “a sex symbol,” telling interviewer Katty Kay the status was “not something I aspired to.”
Fauci has been a polarizing figure since rising to prominence during the onset of the pandemic in 2020, and has since become a target for conservative lawmakers unhappy with the government’s response.
He was celebrated by others, and the doctor said those who perhaps took their adulation too far were likely in search of “comfort” and “sober facts” during the depths of COVID.
During the interview, Fauci said having to challenge President Donald Trump’s claims about the coronavirus was one of the more “painful things” he had to take on.
“I was forced to speak out and say, ’No, that’s not true. It’s not going to disappear like magic. Hydroxychloroquine is not the cure-all for this,’” the former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explained.
Fauci is set to testify in front of Congress next year in a hearing about the origins of COVID-19 and the measures the government took to prevent the spread of disease.
Last week, Rep. Brad Wenstrup, (R-Ohio) announced the physician’s plans to appear on Capitol Hill, saying in a statement, “It is time for Dr. Fauci to confront the facts and address the numerous controversies that have arisen during and after the pandemic.”