The newest token of appreciation for NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, MD, is a hit.
More than 42,000 effigies of the longtime NIAID director, developed by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame, have been shipped across the country since April, when the product first became available.
A portion of each bobblehead sale has been donated to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospital workers across the country, according to Phil Sklar, the organization’s co-founder and CEO.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has become a household name and media sensation during the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s been lauded for his sound public health guidance — not to mention his clashes with the Trump administration’s political appointees. The public health expert has seen his likeness take many forms over the course of the pandemic, including socks, donuts, and now bobbleheads.
The nation’s top doc became the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame’s all-time best-seller in less than a week, Sklar said.
“Five hundred or 1,000 bobbleheads is successful,” Sklar told MedPage Today. Selling 10,000 within a few days, he said, was shocking.
Sales of the Fauci bobblehead smashed the previous record set by Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, chaplain of the men’s basketball team at Loyola University in Chicago, whose bobblehead sold around 18,000 times.
The original Fauci statue has since sold out, according to Sklar. More than $200,000 has been donated to the American Hospital Association’s “Protect the Heroes” campaign, which distributes PPE to hospitals in need.
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame has donated an additional $270,000 to the cause from sales of other bobbleheads honoring leaders of the coronavirus response effort, including Deborah Birx, MD, Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, Amy Acton, MD, MPH, and eight state governors.
In addition to the original Fauci bobblehead, the museum recently unveiled two new models: a limited red-tie edition, and “the facepalm” — recognizing Fauci’s meme-worthy appearance in a press briefing where President Trump made a reference to the “Deep State Department.”
“It’s a commemoration of not just Dr. Fauci, but science in general,” Sklar said.
Fauci, 79, has long been a respected member of the public health community. He has served as NIAID director since 1984, and has advised six presidents. His knowledge has guided the country through a number of epidemics, including the Ebola, Zika, and HIV/AIDS crises.
For those whose bobblehead collection has already grown a bit too large, Sklar said a Fauci Christmas ornament is now available for presale.