Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said Monday that he intends to leave government service in December to pursue the next chapter of his career and that he will step down as President Biden’s top clinical consultant and overseer of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Fauci’s announcement, 81, was not entirely unexpected. In an interview on Sunday evening, he said he was not retiring in the classical sense but would devote himself to traveling, writing and encouraging youth to enter government service.
As long as I am healthy and I am energetic and passionate about who I am I want to do some things outside the purview of the federal government. Fauci said in the interview that he wanted to use his experience and insights to “hopefully inspire youth in public health and public service”.
In a statement on Monday, Mr Biden called Dr. Fauci, whom he called a “committed local official and a consistent hand with shrewdness and understanding. The two worked together during the global outbreak of the Zika virus when Mr. Biden was vice president.”
Few scientists have had such a large or long-lasting influence on public policy. Dr. Fauci joined the National Institutes of Health in 1968 when Lyndon Johnson was president; When the AIDS epidemic demanded attention in 1984, he was appointed director of its infectious diseases branch.
Dr. Fauci has advised every president since Ronald Reagan, seven in total and is adept at navigating the nexus of science and politics.
He said one of his proudest achievements was his work with President George W. Bush in developing a global program to fight HIV/AIDS, known as PEPFAR, that would save an estimated 21 million lives.
Mr. Bush, whose father George Bush calledDr. Fauci “a legend” during the 1988 official discussion, granted him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008.
But Dr. Fauci, who came into the limelight in 2020 when the corona virus spread, could not escape the politicization of Trump’s era. President Donald J. Trump openly toyed with the idea of sacking him although it would have been difficult as Dr. Fauci is not a political appointee. Conservatives saw Dr. Fauci as a symbol of the lockdown and the mask, which they fiercely opposed.
Fauci clashed badly with Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who publicly accused him of lying about research that his institute was funding in China, where the coronavirus emerged.
If someone is lying here, it’s you, Senator,” countered Dr. Fauci. Mr. Paul and other Republicans whom Dr. Fauci has vowed to investigate if he wins control of Congress this fall .
He said he considered stepping down after Mr Trump left the White House, but felt he could not decline Mr Biden’s request to serve as his medical adviser in the thick of the coronavirus crisis.
In addition to running the Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Fauci also leads an immunology laboratory; He said that he would leave that post as well. He said he had told Mr Biden about his decision, and the president was “very kind about it.”
Dr. Fauci did not set a specific departure date (he would turn 82 on December 24). He said he hoped that by staying in the fall and early winter, the United States would be “closer to living” with the coronavirus “in a stable state”, although there is no guarantee.
While he was working on a memoir, Dr. Fauci said he didn’t have a publisher yet. In an interview last year, he said that he was barred from signing a contract with a publisher while he was still employed by the government.