After decades of public health service, including the advising of seven U.S. presidents, Dr. Anthony Fauci has revealed his plans to retire.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical adviser to the president said he will step down from his many roles at the end of President Joe Biden’s current term in office, Politico reported Monday.
A source confirmed to HuffPost that he has announced his plans to not stay past his NIAID term, which ends in early 2025.
“I don’t think there is anything else that I, Tony Fauci, can do except leave behind an institution where I have picked the best people in the country, if not the world, who will continue my vision,” he told the outlet.
Fauci also confirmed the news to NBC but said he doesn’t have an exact retirement date in mind, only keeping 2025 as a place marker.
The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment.
Fauci, 81, has been director of the NIAID since 1984, and has overseen the national response to the coronavirus pandemic since the virus’s emergence in late 2019. In his interview, the infectious disease researcher recognized that the pandemic isn’t yet over, and there’s still more work to be done, but that it’s time for someone else to take over.
“We’re in a pattern now. If somebody says, ‘You’ll leave when we don’t have COVID anymore,’ then I will be 105. I think we’re going to be living with this,” he said of the highly contagious and constantly mutating virus.
The U.S. is currently averaging 126,000 new COVID-19 cases a day after plateauing in May, according to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But it’s not his work helming the nation’s coronavirus response that Fauci said he wants his legacy to be. It’s instead his decades of work fighting HIV/AIDS in infectious disease research and his work advising presidents on how to mitigate its spread.
He called the founding of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief during President George W. Bush’s term possibly “the most impactful thing I have done in my career.”
That program, touted as the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease, has saved 21 million lives through global efforts to control the spread of HIV since its creation in 2003, according to the State Department.
Fauci told Politico that an HIV vaccine is still likely many years away but that he doesn’t need to be there to see its fruition, “because we have enough good people that could carry it on.”