Aug 22, 2022
By Bob Komsic
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert who became a household name — and the subject of partisan attacks — during the COVID-19 pandemic, announced Monday he will leave the federal government in December after more than five decades.
Fauci directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and also leads a lab studying the immune system.
While the COVID-19 pandemic introduced him to millions of Americans, he’s given straight-talk to the nation about numerous outbreaks including HIV/AIDS, SARS, pandemic flu, Ebola and the 2001 anthrax attacks.
“I’ve gone into this campus and into the labs and into the hospital every day, including most weekends, for 54 years. The idea of walking away from it obviously is bittersweet,” Fauci told The Associated Press.
In announcing his departure, the 81-year-old Fauci called his roles “the honor of a lifetime” but said it was time “to pursue the next chapter of my career.”
Known for his candor and for the ability to translate complex medical information into everyday language, Fauci has been a key adviser to seven presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan.
Fauci became the face of the government response to COVID-19 as it hit in early 2020, with frequent appearances on television news and at daily press conferences with White House officials, including then-President Donald Trump. But as the pandemic deepened, Fauci fell out of favor with Trump when his urgings of continued public caution clashed with the former president’s desire to return to normalcy and to promote unproven treatments for the virus.
Fauci found himself marginalized by the Trump administration, but he continued to speak out publicly in media interviews, advocating social distancing and masks in public settings before the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines.
He was also the subject of political attacks and death threats and was given a security detail for his protection.
When Biden won the White House, he asked Fauci to stay on in his administration in an elevated capacity.
Fauci told the AP that he remains frustrated at the country’s divisions over how to handle the pandemic.
“If ever there was a situation where you wanted a unified approach and everybody pulling together for the common good, it would be when you’re in the middle of a public health crisis,” he said. “As a physician and a scientist, I and my colleagues have the responsibility to do what’s correct, what is science-based.”