Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease physician, announced on Monday he will be stepping down from three positions in December.
Fauci currently serves as the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation and Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden. Fauci has served in U.S. public health for more than 50 years.
In a statement, Fauci called his 38-year tenure as the head of the NIAID, “an honor of a lifetime.” He began advising presidents under Ronald Reagan when the HIV/AIDS crisis first erupted.
In an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, Fauci said he hoped the lesson learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is one of flexibility.
“You never ever underestimate an emerging infection in which you don’t know where it’s going because we’ve been fooled before,” Fauci said. “We didn’t fully appreciate the magnitude of HIV back in the early ‘80s when I first got involved when the first cases were recognized and there were so many things we learned on the run with COVID.”
Fauci said local public health officials must have adequate resources to respond to the next outbreak and adapting to change is vital.
“We’ve gotta be prepared, we’ve gotta be able to respond, but we also gotta be flexible,” Fauci said.
Fauci, 81, said he plans to pursue another chapter in his career, telling Maddow that will likely involve lecturing, writing and encouraging young people to go into public service in the arena of science, medicine and public health.