Fauci to leave job as top US epidemiologist in December

Washington, Aug 22 (EFE).- The top US epidemiologist and the most visible face of the Joe Biden administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, announced Monday that he will step down from his post in December with the intention of taking advantage of what he has learned in his long career to continue contributing to the advancement of science and public health.

The 81-year-old expert in immunology said in a statement that although he would be leaving his present position, “I am not retiring,” adding that after more than 50 years of government service he is planning to continue with the “next phase” of his career while he still has enough energy and passion to do so.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus and the associated Covid-19 pandemic, Fauci has been the most visible face of the US government’s response to the health emergency, making numerous appearances on radio and television programs to respond to questions, alleviate doubts and try to fight disinformation circulating about the pandemic.

He will leave his job as director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the head of NIAID’s Laboratory of Immunoregulation and his post as Biden’s chief medical advisor.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to have led the NIAID, an extraordinary institution, for so many years and through so many scientific and public health challenges,” Fauci said in his statement. “I am very proud of our many accomplishments. I have worked with – and learned from – countless talented and dedicated people in my own laboratory, at NIAID, at (the National Institute of Health) and beyond. To them I express my abiding respect and gratitude.”

In his 38 years at the helm of NIAID, Fauci noted that he has advised seven presidents starting with Republican Ronald Reagan and including, among others, fellow Republican Donald Trump, with whom he had notorious differences of opinion and approach regarding the strategy to combat the extraordinarily deadly pandemic, which has caused more than one million deaths in the US alone.

In his work, he faced problems ranging from how to deal with HIV/AIDS to assorted other epidemics, including bird flu, Zika and Ebola.

He said that thanks to the power of science and investments in research and innovation, the world has been able to combat deadly diseases and save lives all over the planet, adding that he was particularly proud to have been a part of that effort and hopes to continue to do so in the future.

In an interview on July 18 with Politico, Fauci had said that he was planning to leave his post before the end of Biden’s first term in office.

Fauci met Biden, who took office in 2021, for the first time while the president was serving as vice president under Barack Obama.

Biden, meanwhile, on Monday said that Fauci is “a dedicated public servant” with “wisdom and insight honed over decades at the forefront of some of our most dangerous and challenging public health crises.”

“When it came time to build a team to lead our Covid-19 response – in fact, in one of my first calls as president-elect – I immediately asked Dr. Fauci to extend his service as my Chief Medical Advisor to deal with the Covid-19 crisis our nation faced,” Biden said in his own statement.

“In that role, I’ve been able to call him at any hour of the day for his advice as we’ve tackled this once-in-a-generation pandemic. His commitment to the work is unwavering, and he does it with an unparalleled spirit, energy and scientific integrity,” the president added.

In 2008, Fauci received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honor.

EFE mgr/pamp/eat/bp

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