Dr Anthony Fauci and Professor Salim Abdool Karim have been jointly awarded the John Maddox Prize 2020 for standing up for science during the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci, director of the US’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Karim, an infectious diseases epidemiologist and director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa, have been recognised for going beyond the line of duty as government advisors on health.
Now in its ninth year, the John Maddox Prize – a joint initiative of the charity Sense about Science and the scientific journal Nature – is awarded to one or two people a year for standing up for sound science in public. The Maddox Prize 2020 received over 100 nominations from 34 different countries.
Fauci received the prize in recognition of his work to help the public understand both the science behind complex and controversial public health issues, and how the nature of science influences government responses.
Karim “has a reputation for clear and honest communication, something that has allowed him to generate public trust in fast-moving science”.
Academy of Science of South Africa president and chairperson, Professor Jonathan Jansen, congratulated Karim on the award.
“We heartily congratulate Professor Karim on the award of the John Maddox Prize as he continues his tireless work in advancing the health and well-being of all South Africans.
“This is a prestigious award and I congratulate you on behalf of the entire board of directors of the South African Medical Association, as well as our members. That this unique award has been bestowed upon you speaks volumes about your professionalism and dedication during an extremely difficult time in our country.
“As South Africans we are incredibly proud of you and the work you are still doing, and we are delighted that your exceptional contribution has been recognised in this way. Again, congratulations on this award, which I know will mean a great deal to you: you deserve it,” Jansen said.
Responding to the news, Karim said promoting science in the country had been a privilege for him.
“I am deeply honoured to receive the 2020 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science, jointly with my colleague Dr Anthony Fauci. Providing scientific advice on Covid-19 in the midst of uncertainty and anxiety proved to be a difficult task, made more challenging by conspiracy theories. But, I found that the task was made easier by staying true to the available scientific evidence without bending to ideology or vested interests.
“Serving the nation by promoting science, evidence and public discussion during two pandemics – Aidsand Covid-19 – over the last 30 or so years has been a privilege for me.”
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde