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Fauci Says He Will Retire Near the End of Biden’s Tenure

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Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s foremost infectious disease expert who has been the face of the coronavirus pandemic for more than two years, will step down towards the end of President Biden’s term after more than 50 years in the government to retire, he confirmed to The Washington Post on Monday.

“By the time we get to the end of Biden’s reign, I think it’s time for me to step down from this position,” Fauci said.

Fauci’s decision to retire by 2025 was first reported by Politico.

Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. In that role, he has advised seven presidents on all kinds of public health crises, including HIV/AIDS, the 2001 anthrax attacks, Ebola, Zika and coronavirus.

After President Donald Trump publicly criticized Fauci and said he would consider firing him, Biden ushered in Fauci’s decades in public service and made Fauci his chief medical adviser in winning the presidency. Biden relied heavily on Fauci in his response to the pandemic, which has spread rampantly across the country despite the widespread availability of vaccines.

Fauci has since said the coronavirus is here to stay, but the United States needs to reach a lower infection threshold to get out of the pandemic phase. The BA.5 variant has become dominant in the United States and is particularly difficult to contain, as antibodies from vaccines and previous coronavirus infections provide limited protection against the latest omicron subvariant.

Fauci was shaped in many ways by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which began to spread throughout the United States when he was appointed director of the NIAID. He faced strong criticism from HIV activists, who criticized the government for being too slow with treatments and ignoring a health crisis that mainly affected gay men.

But Fauci eventually worked with the activists to advance treatments and make them more widely available to patients suffering from the disease, which in its early years killed nearly everyone who contracted the virus. HIV/AIDS treatments have since made it possible to live a long and otherwise normal life with the virus.

But Fauci faced a very different kind of challenge during the coronavirus pandemic.

While Fauci has always been well known, the coronavirus pandemic has brought him national and global exposure, especially after he publicly contradicted Trump about possible Covid-19 treatments and the threat posed by the virus. Trump and some of his associates began to publicly criticize Fauci, even calling for him to be fired by the end of Trump’s term.

After Trump tried to downplay and ignore the virus and effectively let it spread unchecked before vaccines and treatments became widely available, Biden took a different approach and worked to implement policies to bring the virus under control. But the Biden administration has suffered several defeats in federal courts and the Supreme Court. A policy that would have required companies with more than 100 employees to implement a vaccine-or-test requirement was blocked by the Supreme Court, and a federal court overturned a federal mask mandate on public transit.

Fauci’s support for covid-mitigating measures such as lockdowns in early 2020 and mask and vaccine mandates has made him something of a bogeyman for Republican lawmakers who oppose nearly all efforts to contain the virus. Several Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), have vehemently attacked Fauci, in some cases spreading misinformation about his work and even falsely accusing him of responsibility for the pandemic.

Republicans are widely expected to gain control of the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections, and several have vowed to open an investigation into the NIAID director. Fauci told The Post in March that he was alarmed at the possibility of Republicans retaking Congress and launching investigations into his work.

“It’s hearings again in Benghazi,” Fauci said at the time, referring to the GOP-led investigations into Hillary Clinton’s leadership of the State Department during the 2012 attacks on US settlements in Libya. That long-running investigation found no new evidence of Clinton’s wrongdoing, but was a staple of conservative media for years.

“They will try to beat me up in public, and there will be nothing there,” Fauci added. “But it will distract me from my job, as it does now.”

Dan Diamond contributed to this report.

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