Unable to witness the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anthony Fauci, the scientific commander of the United States’ response to the coronavirus, has quietly stepped down from his positions as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the chief medical advisor to the President in December 2022.
During his final White House briefing, this 82-year-old elder, who had served the American public health sector in various capacities for 54 years, expressed his deep concerns, saying, “Because our country is deeply divided… When I see many Americans refusing to get vaccinated for various reasons unrelated to public health, influenced by division and ideology, as a physician, it pains me.”
Throughout his 38-year tenure at NIAID, he served under seven presidents and witnessed significant moments when various viruses and bacteria wreaked havoc on humanity. This includes the HIV virus under the leadership of Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the West Nile virus under Clinton, the anthrax scare and SARS under George W. Bush, H1N1 influenza, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, and Ebola under Obama, and finally, COVID-19 under Trump and Biden.
In each of his roles, he achieved heights that were difficult for ordinary individuals to reach. As an internist, Fauci’s research on Wegener’s granulomatosis (now known as granulomatosis with polyangiitis) revived patients from near death and earned him the position of chief editor of the “Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine” textbook. As a scientist, Fauci sounded the alarm on HIV before it was widely known. As a public health official, he broke barriers in clinical trial design, introduced compassionate use of drugs, and played a crucial role in the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that saved millions of lives with a budget of over 90 billion dollars.
He could have smoothly retired and become a shining figure in the history of modern public health in the United States. His original plan was to retire after the development of an HIV vaccine, which would have been a remarkable and fulfilling ending.
However, things didn’t go as planned. The “Pandora’s Box” was opened once again. Unlike before, the power of facts and the efficacy of data failed in the face of COVID-19. People’s minds were disturbed by various forces, with stock markets crashing and unemployment rates soaring, and science was dethroned.
In June 2022, the COVID-19 death toll in the United States surpassed one million, and Fauci said, “This is the worst thing that has happened to this country in terms of public health in over 100 years.” He became a beacon of truth for the left and a scapegoat for the ignorant on the right. He became both a superstar and an enemy.