After serving in the government for fifty years, Fauci intends to retire in December.


Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s foremost expert on infectious diseases, announced on Monday that he plans to retire in December after more than fifty years of public service. Fauci gained unprecedented fame while facing vicious political criticism as the face of the coronavirus pandemic response under two presidents.

Since 1984, Fauci, 81, has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. When he joined the parent organization, the National Institutes of Health, in 1968 as a doctor fresh out of residency at the age of 27, he was immediately recognized as a rising star. Since the beginning of President Biden’s administration, Fauci has also acted as his chief medical adviser.

During his time as the director of the infectious diseases institute, Fauci served as an advisor to seven presidents and was directly affected by every contemporary ill, such as AIDS, the anthrax scares of 2001, Ebola, Zika, and the coronavirus pandemic. It transformed from a little-known institute with a $350 million yearly budget to a worldwide renowned powerhouse with a budget over $6 billion during the nearly four decades Fauci directed the organization.

According to Biden, who served as Vice President and collaborated with Dr. Fauci on the country’s response to Ebola and Zika during the Obama administration, Dr. Fauci has made numerous contributions to public health that have saved lives both in the United States and around the world. Whether or not you’ve personally met him, his work has impacted all Americans’ lives.

Although Fauci has been well-known in scientific circles for decades and is one of the most often cited researchers of all time, the coronavirus outbreak propelled him to international renown and sparked criticism from some Republican politicians as well as threats from the public.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post, Fauci discussed his upcoming resignation. He had already served as a lightning rod, most notably in the early stages of the AIDS pandemic when campaigners clamoured for a quicker government response as they saw friends perish. But the coronavirus epidemic struck in a remarkably different time, as social media fuelled unfounded accusations and criticisms of Fauci and others in charge of the federal government’s response.

The seasoned researcher acknowledged mistakes: In the early weeks of the pandemic, Fauci and other government scientists advised Americans not to wear masks, which President Donald Trump seized on at the end of his administration to attack Fauci and cast doubt on his understanding. Additionally, Fauci, like many other disease investigators, was slow to realize that asymptomatic individuals were the virus’s primary vectors of transmission.

On his 80th birthday, Anthony S. Fauci went live on Instagram with Post reporter Geoff Edgers to discuss our readers’ most pressing questions on Dec. 24, 2020. (Video: The Washington Post)

Fauci acknowledged that he and other government experts had first been mistaken regarding masks. He stated that they were concerned about having enough face masks for overworked medical professionals and did not yet have evidence that masks were beneficial in avoiding infection outside of hospitals, which eventually became evident, especially as scientists recognized the virus was airborne.

These facts prompted the CDC, the surgeon general of the United States, and I to state that masks are not currently necessary. As a result, Tony Fauci was dubbed the mask expert, according to Fauci. Since I am the far right’s main target, when they accuse someone of making a mistake, Tony Fauci is the one they are really referring to.

According to Fauci, the past two years have been both some of the most gratifying and difficult times of his career. Fauci became a villain to the political right due to his public disagreements with Trump about unproven COVID-19 treatments, the threat presented by the pandemic, and his advocacy of mitigation measures.

It was one of the most significant tasks we have ever faced, and I think my team and I—let history be the judge—have significantly contributed, according to Fauci. Although we weren’t the only ones involved, we had a significant impact on the creation of the vaccines that have now prevented millions of deaths.

However, according to Fauci, the pandemic, which has killed over 1 million people in the US, has been incredibly stressful.

He ascribed that to the fact that the government had to respond to an unique virus that had demonstrated a remarkable propensity to infect individuals and mutated with amazing speed while dealing with the politically tense climate. He claimed that this, along with his notoriety and the focus on his public pronouncements, made it extremely difficult to make mistakes and inform the public of changing scientific advice.

Fauci stated in the interview that he intended to leave his government position while he was still fit, active, and passionate about his field and excited about the next phase of his career.

He also discussed the rise of anti-science views, the mistakes he and other scientists made during the pandemic, the peril to democracy posed by the politics of profound national divisions, and the lessons gained from the government’s and the country’s response to the coronavirus.

Many researchers praised Fauci for his contributions to the discipline and for helping to steer the nation through health problems. However, a number of Republicans attacked Fauci’s track record on the epidemic and threatened to continue inquiries if they took control of the House.

Fauci made it clear that he was not leaving the square. He stated that he intends to use his expertise to motivate and instruct a new generation of scientists via teaching, lecturing, and possibly authoring a book in addition to essays and other forms of writing.

Everything about this location is wonderful. Fauci stated that despite that, he would eventually have to go. I don’t want to be here for too long or I’ll start to slack off.

Ron Klain, the chief of staff for the White House, claimed that Fauci was contacted as soon as Biden was named president-elect at the request of Biden. Klain collaborated with Fauci while he was the Obama administration’s Ebola czar in 2014.

According to Klain, this person gave his life in order to save others and serve his country.

Fauci, who makes $480,654 a year, said he thought about leaving his position at the end of Trump’s presidency. Fauci changed his mind, though, after Biden called him during the presidential campaign and asked whether he would join a future Biden government. He anticipated staying for at least a year in order to guide the nation through the pandemic while vaccines were becoming available. In the end, the virus proved to be far more difficult to contain than expected, and Fauci will have worked alongside Biden for almost two years.

Still, according to Fauci, the country is getting closer to a point of equilibrium where it can live with the virus thanks to a variety of vaccines and therapies, as well as growing immunity through shots and exposure to the virus.

Before Fauci leaves, a temporary replacement is anticipated, and NIH will launch a nationwide search for Fauci’s successor.

When Fauci took over as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, thousands of gay men were being infected with HIV and dying almost entirely due to the lack of available treatments. Many of Fauci’s patients who were expected to die were doing surprisingly well when he was developing curative medicines for inflammatory disorders a few years prior. However, Fauci shifted the emphasis of his lab in the 1980s to the newly emerging illness that mostly affected gay males. Almost all of his patients were suddenly dying, and he was helpless to stop it.

To have every single one of my patients pass away was quite terrible, said Fauci. When you’ve been taught to be a healer and all you’re doing, metaphorically speaking, is placing Band-Aids on hemorrhages when treating HIV, it’s really irritating.

Gay activists felt the government was doing nothing to prevent them from getting ill and dying, and this infuriated the Reagan administration, which for years paid little attention to the situation. By the time he was appointed director of the institute, Fauci and his group had been researching AIDS for roughly three years, but little progress had been achieved in developing a cure.

Gay activists had formed by the late 1980s to draw attention to the AIDS pandemic on a global scale. Their protests and requests that government organizations speed up research and the approval and access to new drugs were directed at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.

HIV/AIDS campaigners pushed for patient access to experimental medications as well as a say in clinical trial design. For many years, scientists and government representatives, including Fauci, refused to alter the study procedure to give patients access to pharmaceuticals out of concern that doing so would jeopardize their ability to do rigorous research. Activists held die-ins outside Fauci’s office while yelling, “Fire Fauci!”

The activists were correct, according to Fauci, and the process needed to alter. And he made friends with the activists, some of whom later on became close friends and advisers. Fauci supported the parallel track strategy, which gives patients access to experimental medications while a second randomized controlled trial is conducted to assess a drug’s efficacy. Years later, under the administration of President George W. Bush, Fauci served as one of the program’s architects. PEPFAR is a multibillion-dollar global HIV/AIDS initiative that has prevented millions of deaths. awarded Fauci the Presidential Medal of Freedom Bush in 2008.

Fauci could typically identify points of agreement and a method to cooperate with his enemies. With the coronavirus epidemic, that altered.

AIDS campaigners were correct that the clinical trial procedure for medications was excessively inflexible and needed to reform, despite the fact that they occasionally used violent tactics, according to Fauci. However, he said that most of the arguments made by his opponents during the coronavirus pandemic lacked any basis in fact.

According to Fauci, the situation with the political polarization surrounding COVID-19 was quite different because there was the utter absurdity of asserting that medications worked despite the lack of supporting data. Oh, don’t worry, it’s going to vanish tomorrow, says the nation’s leader. I believed it was my duty to represent science and the truth as the voice of the nation.

Several Republicans have stated they will start an investigation into Fauci if they take back control of the House in the elections in November. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have attacked Fauci particularly vehemently and spread unfounded allegations and conspiracies about him.

Republicans gave a hint on Monday that even when Fauci leaves office, they will still call him to Capitol Hill.

Retirement won’t protect Rep. James Comer (Ky), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee and a representative of legislative oversight, tweeted about Dr. Fauci. @GOPoversight will provide the transparency and accountability that the American people demand on how government employees spent their tax cash.

Fauci stated that he has not given any attention to how he may handle possible inquiries and that he is not concerned about them.

Nothing is beyond my ability to protect, Fauci declared. I can appreciate differences of opinion, but there is a great difference between that and looking into someone for wrongdoing.

Right-wing attacks have led to threats against Fauci’s life. This month, a guy who threatened to kill Fauci and his family in emails was given more than three years in prison.

Fauci was given a security detail by the government as a result of the constant threats, and he will probably require it even after he leaves his position.

I was forced to disagree with a US president. Although it was difficult, I managed to complete the task, according to Fauci.

Fauci was able to get along with the presidents he counseled until Trump. He has long maintained that he is apolitical and just speaks about science.

Fauci claimed that he had lived by the counsel of a buddy who had counseled President Richard M. Nixon ever since he first went to the White House to offer guidance to President Ronald Reagan. The advice was to remind yourself that each time you enter the White House, it might be your last. The president or another high-ranking figure might not want to hear the uncomfortable truth that you have to give them, and they might never want to speak with you again. They might also appreciate that you were honest with them and want you back.

Six presidents wished for Fauci to return. Mr. Trump didn’t.

During the early stages of the epidemic in 2020, Fauci and Trump appeared to get along well. Fauci started openly debating the volatile president as Trump started grabbing on purported cures in a frantic bid to convince people that the pandemic was about to end. Trump argued that hydroxychloroquine was a promising treatment, but Fauci insisted that there was no proof that it was effective.

Trump initially agreed with Fauci’s and Deborah Birx, the president’s coronavirus response coordinator, who recommended extending advice for a government shutdown. But as the epidemic raged through the summer and fall of 2020 without vaccines or medicines, Trump abandoned all mitigating attempts. Even after many, especially Republicans, had grown weary of limitations, Fauci continued to advise people to wear masks and maintain social distance, making him a boogeyman to the right. His support for mandatory vaccinations in 2021 solidified that opinion.

Trump eventually turned against Fauci, which led to a notable public rupture in July 2020 when White House officials published an opposition-style letter detailing every instance in which they thought Fauci had misjudged the outbreak.

I found myself in a really peculiar situation where the nation was afraid and they really wanted someone who was stable and honest and showed integrity and stuck with the truth, and I became the symbol of that, said Fauci. And when you represent a particular group of people who are opposed to it, you turn into the villain in their eyes.

Some of Fauci’s objectives have been difficult to achieve. He stated earlier in his tenure as the infectious diseases institute’s director that he did not want to go without making a significant advancement toward an HIV vaccine. Although he claimed it was within reach, it probably won’t happen until a while after he steps down.

The sad lessons learned over the past two years and more are as follows: Never undervalue the power of a new outbreak. Scientists first believed that only those with symptoms were infected with HIV and the coronavirus, failing to identify the possibility of asymptomatic spread and underestimating the severity of both pandemics. Understanding asymptomatic spread early would have fundamentally altered how both crises were handled by the government.

The country has never been so sharply divided, according to Fauci. Fauci expresses concern over the course of the nation but still holding out optimism that it may emerge from its period of political stalemate: “I believe that, in the end, the better angels in our country are going to win.”


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