Dr Anthony Fauci’s wife had to get creative this year to surprise her top epidemiologist husband with an 80th birthday celebration amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and his wife, bioethecist Christine Grady, were not going to risk being labelled hypocrites by traveling, or inviting guests over to their house, in violation of the strict COVID restrictions that Fauci has been preaching since the outset of the outbreak.
Determined to surprise her husband anyway, Grady turned to Zoom, and worked quietly behind the scenes to get more than a dozen friends and family from across the US and around the world to log in at the same time to wish an unsuspecting Fauci a happy birthday.
Master of surprises: Dr Anthony Fauci (left) said his wife of 35 years, Christine Grady (right), on Sunday threw him a surprise party on Zoom to celebrate his 80th birthday (pictured above arriving at a state dinner at the White House in October 2016)
Fauci and his wife agreed that this year, their three daughters (pictured in this undated photo), who live in different parts of the US, would not visit for the milestone birthday
Fauci, who turns 80 today, shared news of his socially distanced online surprise party organized by his wife of 35 years with The Guardian.
‘She is a genius at fooling me,’ Fauci told the newspaper. ‘I mean, it’s very tough to fool me. But she threw surprise birthday parties for my 50th, 60th and 70th birthdays.’
This year, Fauci and Grady, director of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, agreed that their three grown daughters, who live in different parts of the country, would not visit for their father’s milestone birthday.
‘Because I have been telling the country to limit travel, and I don’t want to be one of those health officials who tells the world to do something and then they go out and have a party themselves,’ Fauci explained.
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has proclaimed Christmas Eve to be ‘Dr Fauci Day’
The plan was for Fauci and Grady to enjoy a quiet dinner for two at home on Thursday, followed by a Zoom session with their daughters.
But unbeknownst to her husband, Grady, 68, had another plan in mind.
For the past year, Fauci has worked 18-hour days, seven days a week, without taking a day off.
Last Sunday, Grady told Fauci he had to be home from work by 5.30pm, ostensibly to connect with their daughters on Zoom, as they did every weekend.
At 5pm, Fauci said one the the federal agents protecting him due to death threats approached him, saying he needed to head home shortly.
Fauci initially brushed off the reminder, but the agent persisted, stressing that his wife said he had to get home by 5.30pm.
‘I should have known what’s going on,’ Fauci said, ‘but he was none the wiser.’
As soon as Fauci walked inside his house, he heard about 15 voices yell ‘Surprise!’ from a computer.
Dr Fauci received a COVID vaccine from Moderna in Washington DC on Tuesday
Thanks to Grady’s birthday subterfuge, some of Fauci’s closest friends from as far away as Italy and Switzerland were able to log into Zoom simultaneously to celebrate his birthday.
Fauci has encouraged all Americans to refrain from traveling this holiday season, and celebrate the festive period with those inside their immediate households.
It was not the only surprise that Fauci has received on his birthday: Dr Jill Biden on Thursday tweeted a recording of her and President-elect Joe Biden serenading the top COVID scientist with their rendition of the ‘Happy Birthday’ song.
‘Hey, pal, happy birthday,’ the future commander-in-chief says in the 17-second clip.
Also this week Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser week proclaimed Christmas Eve to be ‘Dr Fauci Day.’
‘Dr. Fauci has been a hero to our nation during this incredibly difficult year, working tirelessly to save lives and guide our nation’s response to and recovery from the pandemic,’ Bowser said in a statement.
The honor prompted mockery from right-wing TV personalities, chief among them Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, who dubbed Fauci the ‘Patron Saint of Wuhan.’