Anthony Fauci, who has been the public face of the U.S. response to the Covid pandemic after a long tenure leading the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday that he plans to step down in December. He also will depart as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser.
“I will be leaving these positions in December of this year to pursue the next chapter of my career,” Fauci said in a statement.
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His departure had been expected, as he signaled in July that he planned to retire by the time that Biden’s current term ends.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to have led the NIAID, an extraordinary institution, for so many years and through so many scientific and public health challenges,” Fauci said. “I am very proud of our many accomplishments. I have worked with — and learned from — countless talented and dedicated people in my own laboratory, at NIAID, at NIH and beyond. To them I express my abiding respect and gratitude.”
Biden said in a statement, “As he leaves his position in the U.S. Government, I know the American people and the entire world will continue to benefit from Dr. Fauci’s expertise in whatever he does next. Whether you’ve met him personally or not, he has touched all Americans’ lives with his work. I extend my deepest thanks for his public service. The United States of America is stronger, more resilient, and healthier because of him.”
Fauci, 81, has led the NIAID since 1984, serving under seven presidents and, as he noted in his statement, advising on “newly emerging and re-emerging infectious disease threats including HIV/AIDS, West Nile virus, the anthrax attacks, pandemic influenza, various bird influenza threats, Ebola and Zika, among others, and, of course, most recently the COVID-19 pandemic.”
While Fauci has been among the figures in controversies over the federal government’s handling of previous epidemic and outbreaks, particularly HIV/AIDS, perhaps none has put him in the spotlight like Covid. He advised President Donald Trump during the first year of the epidemic, but he became a target on the right as he provided sometimes sobering scientific data to counter misinformation and conspiracy theories. In times that Fauci testified before the Senate, he at times engaged in testy exchanges with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
Fauci said in his statement, “While I am moving on from my current positions, I am not retiring. After more than 50 years of government service, I plan to pursue the next phase of my career while I still have so much energy and passion for my field. I want to use what I have learned as NIAID Director to continue to advance science and public health and to inspire and mentor the next generation of scientific leaders as they help prepare the world to face future infectious disease threats.”
More to come.
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