Anthony Fauci, the United States’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director and Chief Medical Advisor to the President, has announced that he is set to retire from both positions in December 2022. Fauci has had an illustrious career as one of the top medical experts in the United States, having joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1968. Fauci has overseen the United States’ response to some of the worst health crises the country has seen over the years.
Fauci started his career as an intern with the Cornell Medical Centre in New York in 1964. Four years later he joined the NIAID’s Laboratory of Clinical Investigation (LCI) as a Clinical Associate. As the head of the NIH’s Clinical Physiology Section, Fauci helped make significant discoveries in the treatment of vasculitis syndromes.
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Fauci’s most significant contribution before COVID-19 was his work on HIV and how the virus weakens the human body’s immune system. In the early 1980s, the US was going through the AIDS epidemic. Despite Fauci and his team trying to discover a vaccine for the treatment of the disease, activists accused the former of incompetency.
However, his continued work with the LGBTQ+ communities in New York and San Francisco was eventually acknowledged even by his harshest critics like playwright Larry Kramer. Having earlier called Fauci an “incompetent idiot”, Kramer later went on to declare him as “the only true and great hero” among all government officials who were fighting the health crisis.
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Fauci was one of the chief architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which ended up saving countless lives. He also fought to increase the NIAID budget from $357 million to $5.9 billion.
Fauci, in a 2009 interview, warned the US about the swine flu pandemic by saying that the H1N1 virus could affect around one among every three Americans.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US, Fauci became a household name. He was made a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and often spoke out publicly regarding the importance of social-distancing and wearing masks. He was heavily criticized on a number of occasions by former President Donald Trump as well as a number of conservative politicians regarding his COVID guidelines when fatalities kept increasing.
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Regarding how he was attacked during the pandemic, Fauci later said that he faced “push-back from people in the White House, including the president” because of his comments.
Anthony Fauci has won a number of awards throughout his career for his contributions to medical science and disease prevention. He was adjudged Time magazine’s Guardian of the Year in 2020 for his work in fighting COVID. He was honoured with the National Academy of Sciences’ Public Welfare Medal in 2021, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008, and the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2020.