WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert who became a household name — and the target of partisan attacks — during the COVID-19 pandemic, announced Monday that he will leave the federal government in December after more than five decades services.
Fauci, who serves as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, was director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and head of NIAID’s Immunoregulation Laboratory. He was a leader in the federal fight against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases even before the coronavirus hit.
“I will be leaving these positions this December to move on to the next chapter of my career,” Fauci said in a statement, calling the roles “the honor of a lifetime.”
Fauci became the face of the government’s response to COVID-19 in early 2020, appearing frequently on television news and in daily press conferences with White House officials, including then-President Donald Trump. But as the pandemic deepened, Fauci fell out of favor with Trump and his officials, as his calls for continued public caution clashed with the former president’s desire to return to normal life and his promotion of unproven treatments for the virus.
Fauci has found himself marginalized by the Trump administration, increasingly sidelined from making major decisions about the federal response, but he has continued to speak publicly in media interviews advocating social distancing and face coverings in public before the spread of COVID-19 vaccines.
He was also the target of political attacks and death threats, and was provided with a bodyguard to protect him.
When Biden won the White House, he asked Fauci to remain in his administration in an elevated position. The president praised Fauci in a statement, saying, “Whether you met him in person or not, he touched the lives of all Americans through his work. I express my deepest gratitude for his public service. The United States of America is stronger, more resilient, and healthier because of him.”
Fauci said that despite retiring from federal service, he plans to continue working. “I want to use what I’ve learned as director of NIAID to continue to advance science and public health, and to inspire and mentor the next generation of scientific leaders who help prepare the world for future infectious disease threats,” he said.