Fauci, face of US COVID response, to step down from government posts

  • Immunologist was an advisor to seven presidents
  • Fauci was vilified by Trump and Republican lawmakers
  • He faced death threats because of pandemic policies

Aug 22 (Reuters) – Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official who became the face of the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic response under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, announced Monday that he is stepping down in December after 54 years of public maintenance.

Fauci, whose efforts to fight the pandemic have been praised by many public health experts even as he was vilified by Trump and many Republicans, will serve as chief medical adviser to Biden and director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious. Diseases (NIAID) leave. ), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Fauci, 81, has headed the NIAID since 1984.

The veteran immunologist has served as an advisor to seven U.S. presidents, starting with Republican Ronald Reagan, focusing on newly emerging and re-emerging dangers of infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Zika, monkeypox and COVID-19.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Fauci received criticism from Trump and several conservatives and even death threats against him and his family from people who objected to precautions such as vaccination, social distancing and masking that he advocated to try to limit the lethality of the COVID-19 pandemic. After defeating Trump in the 2020 election, Biden made Fauci his chief medical adviser.

“I think it’s absolutely worth staying as long as I have. It’s a shame, but the fact is that we currently live in a very, very divisive society,” Fauci told Reuters on Monday.

Fauci said he has never considered stepping down because of the threats against him.

“I don’t like the idea of ​​having armed federal agents with me. That’s not a happy feeling. It’s reality. And you’re dealing with reality,” Fauci said.

Republican lawmakers, including fierce critic Rand Paul, with whom Fauci became embroiled during Senate hearings, pledged Monday to investigate him if they gain control of the House of Representatives or the Senate in November’s congressional elections.

“As he leaves his position in the US government, I know that the American people and the entire world will continue to benefit from Dr. Fauci’s expertise in everything he does thereafter,” Biden said in a statement. “The United States of America is stronger, more resilient and healthier because of him.”

Fauci signaled his impending departure last month, telling Reuters that he would be stepping down towards the end of Biden’s first term, which runs until January 2025, and possibly earlier. read more

The United States leads the world in recorded COVID-19 deaths with over a million. In the early months of the 2020 pandemic, Fauci helped lead the scientific effort to develop and test COVID-19 vaccines in record time and participated with Trump in regular White House televised briefings.

Fauci became a popular and trusted figure among many Americans as the United States faced lockdowns and an increasing number of COVID-19 deaths, even inspiring the sale of cookies and bobblehead dolls with his likeness.

Fauci, however, angered Trump and many Republicans for warning against reopening the US economy too soon and at risk of increased infections and for opposing the use of unproven treatments such as the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.


Democrats accused Trump of presiding over a disjointed response to the pandemic and of ignoring advice from public health experts, including Fauci. Trump called Fauci “a disaster” in October 2020, weeks before his reelection loss, and complained that Americans were tired of hearing about the pandemic. Trump even joked about Fauci’s off-target ceremonial first pitch at a Washington Nationals baseball game.

Fauci has sometimes publicly contradicted Trump’s statements about the pandemic. Fauci said Monday that while he respects the office of the presidency, he felt he had to speak up “when things were said that were downright untrue and quite misleading”.

“I didn’t have much fun with that,” Fauci said.

Paul regularly attacked Fauci during Senate hearings on the pandemic. read more

Fauci has accused Paul of spreading misinformation. Paul on his website has accused Fauci of “lying about everything from masks to the contagiousness of the virus”. Fauci noted during a hearing that Paul posted fundraising appeals on his website alongside a call for him to be fired.

Fauci said a stay until December will allow the search for a new director of NIAID, an institution with an annual budget of more than $6 billion, and the appointment of an acting head. Fauci also said he wanted to stay to help address an expected fall resurgence of COVID-19 infections.

Fauci made it clear that while he will be leaving the government service, he will not be retiring. He said he hopes in the future to use his expertise to inspire a new generation of doctors to pursue careers in public health, medicine and science.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Report by Leroy Leo in Bengaluru and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham and Sriraj Kalluvila

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.