White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci clarified Tuesday that he doesn’t plan to retire after he said Monday that he was going to step down from his government position at the end of President Joe Biden’s term.
Fauci told Politico on Monday morning that he did not expect to stay in his current position when the term ends in January 2024. The move triggered speculation that Fauci would retire before then.
“I’m not going to retire. No, no, I’m not going to retire. I may step down from my current position at some time,” Fauci told The Hill. “I said a very innocent but true thing. I said whether it’s Donald Trump or it’s Joe Biden’s second term, I don’t intend to be in my current position in January of 2025,” he added.
Fauci, 81, has headed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease since 1984 but became a household name in early 2020 when he began delivering interviews to media outlets about the COVID-19 pandemic, essentially serving as the federal government’s chief pandemic spokesperson.
“What happens between now and then I have not decided, but the one thing I do know is that I have other things that I want to do in a professional way that I want to have the capability—while I still have the energy and the passion to do them,” he told The Hill Tuesday.
As the pandemic dragged on, Fauci became a polarizing figure for his often dire predictions about the trajectory of COVID-19’s spread in the United States. Meanwhile, he’s championed mask and vaccine mandates while dismissing assertions that those rules restrict people’s freedom.
The U.S. Supreme Court in January struck down the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test rule, saying that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration exceeded its authority.
Several weeks ago, Fauci said he contracted COVID-19 despite having received four vaccine doses. Last week, Fauci raised more headlines when he told Fox News that COVID-19 vaccines “don’t protect overly well … against infection,” although he said that they instead protect individuals against severe disease and hospitalization.
Also in the interview with Politico, Fauci also said the world will be living with COVID-19 for some time.
“We’re in a pattern now. If somebody says, ‘You’ll leave when we don’t have COVID anymore,’ then I will be 105. I think we’re going to be living with this,” he said, adding, “What we have right now, I think we’re almost at a steady state.”