Anthony Fauci, the main face of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States, announced this Monday (22) that he will leave the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Niaid), which he has directed for almost four decades, in end of year.
He stressed, however, that his departure from government does not mean he is retiring. “I intend to move on to the next phase of my career while I still have a lot of energy and passion,” says the 81-year-old doctor.
Fauci has served under seven US presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan, on infectious disease threats that include AIDS, Ebola and Zika, and recently, monkeypox.
His efforts to fight Covid were applauded even as he was vilified by then-President Donald Trump, opposing the strategies advocated by the doctor to reduce the lethality of the virus – vaccination, social distancing and the use of masks.
By defeating Trump in the last US presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden made Fauci his top medical adviser. In a statement released on Monday, he said the doctor had made America “stronger, more resilient and healthier”.
Fauci says the threats made to him and his family during the pandemic never made him consider resigning. “I definitely think it was worth staying [na função] for all this time. It’s sad, but it’s a fact like others that we’re living in a very, very polarized society today,” she says.
“I don’t like the fact that I have to have armed federal agents accompanying me. It doesn’t feel good. But it’s a reality, and reality has to be dealt with.”
Republican congressmen — including Senator Rand Paul, whom Fauci accuses of spreading fake news about Covid — have said they intend to open an investigation into the doctor if they gain control of the House or Senate in November.
The United States was the country with the highest number of deaths from Covid, a number that exceeds one million.