Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the White House, confirmed he will retire by the end of President Joe Biden’s first term, but it could come much earlier than that, the infectious disease expert told Reuters in an interview on Monday.
“I haven’t made an announcement of my retirement, but it could be anywhere from now until then,” Fauci said in the telephone interview. “I don’t know yet.”
Fauci, 81, in late November 2021 told Reuters he was “not even remotely contemplating” retirement.
He has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984 and in 2020 became the face of the U.S. government’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
When he does leave government service, Fauci said he has no intention of completely retiring. “I’m going to continue working because I still have a lot of energy and passion about public health, and global public health.”
As for the ongoing monkeypox outbreak, Fauci said “there is a risk” of the virus becoming endemic in the United States, meaning it will continue to spread without being eradicated. “That’s the reason why we’ve got to move quickly,” he said.
Besides people who have already been exposed to the virus, Fauci said vaccines need to be given to people who are at risk for an infection, such as those who are taking the HIV prevention therapy called PrEP.
“We want to get a much broader coverage of vaccine for pre-exposure prophylaxis as well as for post-exposure prophylaxis,” Fauci said.
The U.S. government has been working to ramp up access to those vaccines, which are in short supply, complicating efforts by already poorly funded sexual health clinics to respond to the outbreak. (Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen, additional reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Jonathan Oatis)