In 2003, terrorism was a more immediate national danger than infectious diseases. Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) had just redirected $117 million from infectious diseases to fund a new anthrax vaccine effort in response to the anthrax attacks that happened a week after 9/11.
The millions were just a small part of the $1.8 billion Fauci had poured into defense from bioterrorist attacks over the preceding two years. More than half of those funds were devoted to anthrax and smallpox alone. In 2004, Fauci launched the $5.6 billion “Project Bioshield,” the National Institutes of Health’s biggest outlay for a single research issue until then.
Some microbiology researchers at the time, however, according to the journal Nature, were concerned that Fauci’s actions would ultimately “distort priorities in infectious-disease research, sucking money away from work to understand and counter natural disease outbreaks that ultimately pose a greater threat to public health.” The 2003 Nature article