Fauci’s decision to retire by 2024 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 through all manner 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 heralded Fauci’s decades in public service and made Fauci his chief medical adviser upon winning the presidency. Biden has leaned heavily on Fauci in his response to the pandemic, which has continued to spread rampantly throughout the country despite the widespread availability of vaccines.
Fauci has since said the coronavirus is here to stay but that the United States needs to reach a lower threshold of infections to get out of the pandemic phase. The BA.5 variant has become dominant in the United States and has proven especially difficult to contain because antibodies from vaccines and previous coronavirus infections offer limited protection against the latest omicron subvariant.
Fauci was in many ways shaped by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which had begun spreading through the United States when he was appointed director of NIAID. He faced fierce criticism from HIV activists, who slammed the government for moving too slowly on treatments and for ignoring a health crisis that was primarily affecting gay men.
But Fauci eventually worked with the activists to advance treatments and make them more widely available to patients who were suffering from the disease, which in the early years killed almost 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 an entirely different kind of challenge during the coronavirus pandemic.
While Fauci has always been well-known, the coronavirus pandemic thrust him to national and worldwide fame, especially after he publicly contradicted Trump about potential covid-19 treatments and the threat the virus posed. Trump and some of his aides began publicly criticizing Fauci and even called for him to be fired toward the end of Trump’s term.
After Trump sought to downplay and ignore the virus and effectively allowed it to spread unchecked before vaccines and treatments became widely available, Biden has taken a different approach, working to implement policies to bring the virus under control. But the Biden administration has faced several defeats in federal courts and at the Supreme Court. A policy that would have required businesses 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 transportation.
Fauci’s support for covid mitigation measures such as lockdowns in early 2020 and mask and vaccine mandates has made him a sort of boogeyman for Republican lawmakers who opposed almost all efforts to control the virus. Several Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), have fiercely targeted Fauci, in some cases disseminating misinformation about his work and even baselessly accusing him of being responsible for the pandemic.
Republicans are widely expected to win control of the House of Representatives in the November midterms and several have vowed to open probes into the NIAID director. Fauci in March told The Post that he was alarmed by the possibility of Republicans retaking Congress and launching investigations into his work.
“It’s Benghazi hearings all over again,” Fauci said then, referring to the GOP-led investigations of Hillary Clinton’s leadership of the State Department during the 2012 attacks on U.S. compounds in Libya. That long-running investigation found no new evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton but was a staple of conservative media for years.
“They’ll try to beat me up in public, and there’ll be nothing there,” Fauci added. “But it will distract me from doing my job, the way it’s doing right now.”
Dan Diamond contributed to this report.