(The Hill) — Chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci on Sunday said COVID-19 was politicized by a “triple whammy” as the pandemic hit an already divided nation during a contentious election year.

“It got political very, very quickly because we had the misfortune of an outbreak, and a double misfortune of an outbreak in a divided society, and the triple misfortune of a divided society in an election year,” Fauci said in an interview aired on ABC’s “This Week.” 

“I mean, you couldn’t get more … cards stacked against you, than right there. It was a triple whammy.” 

Fauci has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, working under seven administrations, but surged into the spotlight as the lead voice of the Trump White House response to COVID-19.  

He became a lightning rod for criticism and conspiracy theories throughout the pandemic, with some on the right insisting that Fauci was a Democratic puppet. The doctor also faced death threats for his public health guidance. 

“To say that I, who have been an advisor to seven presidents, and have never ever veered one way or the other from an ideological standpoint, for somebody to say that I’m political, I mean that’s completely crazy,” Fauci said Sunday. 

Fauci announced earlier this summer that he plans to step down from his position by the end of President Biden’s time in office. 

He later made it clear that his move away from his government position isn’t a retirement, and that he plans to pursue other professional goals away from the White House. 

Stay ahead of the biggest stories, breaking news and weather in Mobile, Pensacola and across the Gulf Coast and Alabama. Download the WKRG News 5 news app and be sure to turn on push alerts.