There may be light at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic, but one piece of the virus will live on.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who became the public face of the government's coronavirus response with daily press conferences and media interviews, on Tuesday donated his personal model of the SARS-CoV-2 virion to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The model will be housed within the national medicine and science collections.
The museum is currently collecting and documenting pieces of the pandemic for a future exhibit "In Sickness and In Health." The exhibit will explore and display more than 200 years of medicine in the United States, including COVID-19.
Fauci has used the blue and pink spikey ball as an educational tool over the past 13 months to explain COVID-19 in briefings to members of Congress, journalists, and the public. The model was made with a 3D printer and shows the various components of the complete, infectious form of the virus including the spike protein--a key characteristic of the virus that allows it to penetrate host cells and cause infection.
In keeping with social distancing rules, Fauci made the donation virtually during the museum's "Great Americans Program" Tuesday.
During the event, Fauci also received the museum's signature Great Americans medal for his work during the coronavirus pandemic and for his work on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, as well as other emerging diseases.
"Dr. Fauci has helped save millions of lives and advanced the treatment and our understanding of infectious and immunologic diseases across more than five decades of public service," said Anthea Hartic, the Elizabeth MacMillan Director at the museum. "His humanitarianism and dedication truly exemplify what it means to be a Great American."
Fauci, director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, served as the face of the Trump administration's COVID-19 response team and was later retained as the chief medical advisor to the Biden White House.
The Great Americans medal has previously been given to Madeleine K. Albright, Cal Ripken Jr., Billie Jean King and others.