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Fauci Says He Will Step Down in December to Pursue His ‘Next Chapter’

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Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said on Monday that he intended to depart government service in December to “pursue the following chapter” of his profession, and that he would step down as President Biden’s top medical adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which he has led for 38 years.

The announcement by Dr. Fauci, 81, was not entirely unexpected. He has hinted for a while that he was pondering of retiring, saying last month that he would “almost definitely” achieve this by 2025. In an interview Sunday evening, he said he was “not retiring within the classic sense” but would devote himself to traveling, writing and inspiring young people to enter government service.

“As long as I’m healthy, which I’m, and I’m energetic, which I’m, and I’m passionate, which I’m, I need to do some things outside of the realm of the federal government,” Dr. Fauci said within the interview, adding that he wanted to make use of his experience and insight into public health and public service to “hopefully encourage the younger generation.”

In a press release on Monday, Mr. Biden thanked Dr. Fauci, whom he called a “dedicated public servant and a gentle hand with wisdom and insight.” The 2 had worked closely together during a worldwide outbreak of the Zika virus when Mr. Biden was vice chairman.

“Due to Dr. Fauci’s many contributions to public health, lives here in the US and around the globe have been saved,” the president said.

Few scientists have had as large or as long-lasting an impact on public policy. Dr. Fauci joined the National Institutes of Health in 1968, when Lyndon B. Johnson was president; he was appointed the director of its infectious disease branch in 1984, when the AIDS epidemic demanded attention.

Dr. Fauci has advised every president since Ronald Reagan — seven in all — and has been adept at navigating the nexus of science and politics. Amongst his proudest accomplishments, he said, was his work with President George W. Bush in developing a worldwide program to combat H.I.V./AIDS, generally known as PEPFAR, which has saved an estimated 21 million lives. Mr. Bush — whose father, George Bush, called Dr. Fauci a hero during a 1988 presidential debate — awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008.

But Dr. Fauci, who catapulted into the highlight when the coronavirus began spreading in 2020, couldn’t escape the politicization of the Trump era. President Donald J. Trump toyed openly with the concept of firing him (though that will have been difficult because Dr. Fauci shouldn’t be a political appointee). Conservatives viewed Dr. Fauci as an emblem of lockdowns and masks, which they fiercely resisted.

His response to the pandemic has drawn criticism, and he also conceded that it was not perfect. Early within the outbreak, he told Americans that there was no must wear masks to guard against infection from the novel coronavirus; that turned out to be incorrect. He has said that he offered that advice because masks were in brief supply on the time.

Dr. Fauci was a ubiquitous figure on television, which prompted his critics to accuse him of searching for fame or hogging the highlight. He has said he did television interviews because his voice was needed to deliver public health messages in a time of crisis.

His high profile got here at a value. He and his family received death threats and required a security detail. In December, the authorities in Iowa arrested a California man who had an assault rifle and ammunition, in addition to a “hit list” that named Dr. Fauci and Mr. Biden, amongst others.

Dr. Fauci clashed bitterly with Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who publicly accused him of lying about research his institute was funding in China, where the coronavirus emerged. (“If anybody is lying here, Senator, it’s you” Dr. Fauci shot back.) He also once muttered under his breath that Senator Roger Marshall, Republican of Kansas, was “a moron” after the senator suggested that Dr. Fauci’s financial disclosure forms weren’t public. The forms are public and available on request but weren’t available on the web until Mr. Marshall sought them from the N.I.H. and posted them online.

Mr. Paul and other Republicans have vowed to research Dr. Fauci in the event that they win control of Congress in the autumn. There was speculation that he would retire to avoid that possibility.

Dr. Fauci dismissed that concept as “nonsense” and likewise said that he had no intention of going to work for the pharmaceutical industry, as a few of his critics have suggested. He said he considered stepping down after Mr. Trump left the White House, but felt he couldn’t refuse a request from Mr. Biden to function his medical adviser within the thick of the coronavirus crisis.

“So I stayed on for a yr, pondering that at the top of the yr, it could be the top of Covid, and because it turned out, you already know, that’s not exactly what happened,” Dr. Fauci said. “And now it’s my second yr here, and I just realized that there are things that I need to do.”

Along with running the allergy and infectious diseases institute, Dr. Fauci also leads an immunology laboratory; he said he would go away that position as well. He said he had told Mr. Biden of his decision, and the president had been “very gracious about it.”

Dr. Fauci didn’t set a particular departure date (he’ll turn 82 on Dec. 24). He said he hoped that by staying through the autumn and into early winter, the US would “catch up with to living with” the coronavirus “in a gentle state,” though there aren’t any guarantees.

“I’m not completely happy in regards to the undeniable fact that we still have 400 deaths per day,” he said. “We’d like to do significantly better than that. So I don’t think I can say that I’m satisfied with where we’re. But I hope that over the following couple of months, things will improve.”

While he has been working on a memoir, Dr. Fauci said he didn’t yet have a publisher. In an interview last yr, he said he was precluded from contracting with a publisher while he was still employed by the federal government.

During greater than five many years as a government scientist, Dr. Fauci has helped shepherd the US through quite a lot of infectious disease threats. But before the coronavirus, he was best known for his work on H.I.V./AIDS. He was polarizing then as well, a goal of activists who accused him of being accountable for the deaths of gay men by not moving quickly enough to push latest treatments through the approval process.

Over time, he befriended lots of those activists. In an email message on Monday, certainly one of them, Peter Staley, recalled “parading an effigy of his bloody head on a stick in front of his constructing on the N.I.H.” But “he still never closed his door to us,” Mr. Staley said, adding, “I’ve never met a more decent human being.”

Dr. Fauci was profoundly affected by caring for AIDS patients in an era when nearly all of them died. In a documentary released by National Geographic last yr, he recalled arriving on the bedside of an AIDS patient who suddenly now not recognized him; the person had lost his vision.

As Dr. Fauci told the story, his voice cracked. The filmmakers asked why it was affecting him all these years later. He paused to assemble himself. “Post-traumatic stress syndrome,” he said, pausing again. “That’s what it’s.”

Dr. Fauci became a household name within the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. His face was commemorated on sweatshirts, socks and mugs. A petition to call him People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” garnered greater than 28,000 signatures.

When asked in an interview this yr about why he had grow to be such a polarizing figure, Dr. Fauci pointed to a few of Mr. Trump’s aides, who, he said, sought to pillory him by insisting that all the pieces he said was incorrect. He didn’t take issue directly with Mr. Trump.

“As an alternative of throwing me out, they tried to discredit me,” Dr. Fauci said. Referring to the aides, he said, “In case you are propagating lies, the one who is telling the reality based on science unexpectedly becomes the adversary.”

In a proper statement announcing his departure, Dr. Fauci said he would use his remaining months in government to “proceed to place my full effort, passion and commitment into my current responsibilities” and to assist prepare his institute for a leadership transition.

“N.I.H. is served by among the most talented scientists on the earth,” he said, “and I actually have little question that I’m leaving this work in very capable hands.”

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