The man behind the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci will leave his post at the end of 2022
The virus specialist will also retire at that time from his position as director of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, which he has held for 38 years. However, he clarified that this is not yet “retirement” for him.
“I plan to continue the next phase of my career with all the energy and passion I have left for my field,” he said in a statement.
Dr. Fauci is immensely respected by many but also intensely disliked by a conservative segment of the population; in the last two years, he had become the face of the fight against the pandemic in the United States.
His declaration comes at a time when COVID-19 has largely faded from the lives of Americans – although tens of thousands of new cases continue to be reported daily.
Joe Biden immediately extended “his deepest thanks” to Dr. Fauci. “The United States is stronger, more resilient and healthier because of him,” he praised in a statement.
“His commitment to his work is unwavering, and he does it with the unparalleled spirit, energy and scientific integrity,” Biden added.
In early 2020, the physician by training – already a celebrity in the world of infectious diseases and AIDS, but still little known to the public – was thrust into the spotlight by joining Donald Trump’s presidential coronavirus cell.
With a New York accent, Mr. Fauci became a master at politely reframing his boss, cultivating his image as a straight-talking man.
His simple messages, tirelessly repeated in countless daily media appearances, made him the reassuring figure America needed. His face has become an icon, adorning socks and T-shirts, and cocktails bearing his name are sold in bars.
“I will always be grateful that we had a public health leader like one in a generation to guide us through a pandemic like one in a century,” former President Barack Obama tweeted Monday.
But while Anthony Fauci had always been careful to stay out of politics, he has gradually become the bête noire of conservatives, and the favourite target of anti-vaccine and anti-mask, in a context of solid politicization of the health crisis in the United States.
“Dr. Fauci lost the trust of the American people when his advice unnecessarily kept schools and businesses closed,” reacted House conservative leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday.
At a Senate hearing, Fauci accused another Republican of encouraging those making death threats against him. He is now forced to live under heavy security.
“A lifetime of honour
The son of a pharmacist, Fauci has served under seven different U.S. presidents, beginning with Ronald Reagan.
“It has been the honour of my life to lead NIAID,” he wrote Monday, listing the crises he has been through the AIDS epidemic, anthrax attacks, Ebola, Zika…
Under Republican President George W. Bush, Anthony Fauci was the architect of the Pepfar program, which saved the lives of millions of people with HIV. He was decorated in 2008 for his efforts against AIDS.
“Through the power of science and investments in research and innovation, the world has been able to fight deadly diseases,” Anthony Fauci wrote. “I am proud to have been a part of this important work and look forward to helping continue to do so in the future.”