AIDS trends and Republicans angry as White House chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, reveals plans to step down after five decades of public service

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Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci has shared plans to step down from his roles: running the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and as chief medical advisor to the White House.

 

America’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, 81, revealed today (August 22) his plans to step down from his roles – director of NIAID and chief medical advisor to the White House – from December this year.

 

Fauci, who has spent almost four decades (38 years) as the director of the NIAID, throughout both the AIDS crisis and COVID pandemic, told The New York Times that he plans to leave his role in order to “pursue the next chapter” of his career.

 

He added that he’s “not retiring in the classic sense” and plans to use his new free time traveling, writing, and encouraging the younger generation to get involved with government service.

 

“After more than 50 years of government service, I plan to pursue the next phase of my career while I still have so much energy and passion for my field,” Fauci said in a statement.

“I want to use what I have learned as NIAID Director to continue to advance science and public health and to inspire and mentor the next generation of scientific leaders as they help prepare the world to face future infectious disease threats.”

 

“So long as I’m healthy, which I am, and I’m energetic, which I am, and I’m passionate, which I am, I want to do some things outside of the realm of the federal government,” Fauci told NYT.

 

Dr. Anthony Fauci
White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci to step down in December after more than 50 years of public service

 

While many were introduced to Fauci during the COVID-19 pandemic, his decades-long service has seen him work through numerous outbreaks: including HIV/AIDS, SARS, pandemic flu, Ebola and the 2001 anthrax attacks.

 

“I’ve gone into this campus and into the labs and into the hospital every day, including most weekends, for 54 years. The idea of walking away from it obviously is bittersweet,” Fauci told The Associated Press.

 

Following his announcement, President Joe Biden commended Fauci for his service, which began in 1984, giving reference to their work together throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I came to know him as a dedicated public servant, and a steady hand with wisdom and insight honed over decades at the forefront of some of our most dangerous and challenging public health crises,” Biden said in a statement.

“His commitment to the work is unwavering, and he does it with an unparalleled spirit, energy, and scientific integrity.”

 

Joe Biden with Dr. Anthony Fauci
Joe Biden with Dr. Anthony Fauci (Reuters)

“Because of Dr. Fauci’s many contributions to public health, lives here in the United States and around the world have been saved. As he leaves his position in the U.S. Government, I know the American people and the entire world will continue to benefit from Dr. Fauci’s expertise in whatever he does next,” the president added.

 

“Whether you’ve met him personally or not, he has touched all Americans’ lives with his work. I extend my deepest thanks for his public service. The United States of America is stronger, more resilient, and healthier because of him.”

 

Dr. Fauci has been a key advisor to seven Presidents and their administrations on global AIDS issues, and on initiatives to bolster medical and public health preparedness against emerging infectious disease threats such as pandemic influenza.

 

At age 34, Fauci began working for the NIH (National Institutes of Health) and ten years later, in 1984, he became the Director of NIAID.

As part of that role, he led the national response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

 

As a HIV/AIDS researcher he has been involved in the scientific effort since AIDS was recognized in 1981, and helped to create the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has helped save 21 million lives, the State Department estimates.

Fauci told Politico that the founding of PEPFAR, which was established while working under President George W. Bush, “may be the most impactful thing I have done in my career.”

 

Republican conflict.

Anthony S. Fauci speaks with the coronavirus task force at the White House
Anthony S. Fauci speaks with the coronavirus task force at the White House (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

 

COVID-19 once again thrust Fauci into the spotlight, and amid the partisan conflict over how best to handle the pandemic, he became a regular target for right-wing critics to use as a scapegoat for Government responses to the outbreak.

These attacks provoked a change in public trust for Fauci, who as such he became quite a divisive character in social media conversations and a target for pro-Trump and anti-mandate (vaccine, mask or otherwise) Americans .

 

A report from Politico described how Anthony Fauci had become a ‘bogeyman for conservatives’, who accused him of undermining then-President Donald Trump.

Fauci had a ‘soured relationship‘ with the former President and a well-documented history of conflict.

 

After some of Fauci’s emails were published – as part of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by various news outlets – Conservatives had the hashtag #FauciLeaks trending on Twitter, accusing accusing him of lying under oath about the origins of COVID.

 

Politico described how figures on the right were cherry-picking details and framing the narrative to make it appear as though the emails had been secretly “leaked”, despite the fact that Fauci’s publicly disclosed emails were not state secrets.

 

In April, Republicans cheered as a GOP candidate said Fauci should be executed by firing squad:

‘I’m not advocating we kill Anthony Fauci… until he’s convicted of his crimes through a court’ said Oklahoma GOP candidate, prompting cheers from the crowd.

 

In December 2021, GOP Sen. Ron Johnson accused Fauci of “overhyping” COVID-19″, to which he replied:

“Over hyping COVID? It’s already killed 780,000 Americans and over 5 million people worldwide. So I don’t have any clue of what he’s talking about.”

 

Following the announcement of Fauci’s intention to leave his post, Donald Trump Jr accused him of stepping down to avoid GOP scrutiny:

“Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious disease expert who has seeming been wrong about everything since the AIDS epidemic, says he will retire by the end of the year likely to avoid being questioned by a GOP controlled house on how he got everything so wrong for so long!”

 

 

While GOP Congressional Candidate for Florida, Lavern Spicer, tweeted:

You have my word, when I am in Congress, you will have an UNRELENTING VOICE in calling for the investigation and prosecution of Anthony Fauci. This man is one of the most corrupt, despicable and disgraceful humans to ever occupy a place in our government… yes, ever.”

 

 

 

Some more reactions from Twitter below: