Dr. Anthony Fauci in final press briefing: 'I gave it everything I had'

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, speaks Tuesday at his last daily press briefing at the White House before his retirement. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/04dbd3afea50321f37d83e948da7e9cd/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, speaks Tuesday at his last daily press briefing at the White House before his retirement. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Dr. Anthony Fauci, who fought the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and became the face of the U.S. government's response to COVID-19, held his final press briefing Tuesday the White House.

In what may be his final message to the public before retiring, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden urged people to get their updated COVID-19 booster and annual flu shot.


"If you look at the striking data, it overwhelmingly shows the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing severe illness and deaths," Fauci, 81, said in the briefing with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha.

"We know it's safe. We know that it is effective. My message, and maybe the final message that I give you from this podium is that please for your own safety, for that of your family get your updated COVID-19 shot as soon as you're eligible."

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Nearly 13 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed worldwide, and more than 265 million Americans have received at least one dose. Fauci said people who are vaccinated and boosted are 14 times less likely to die from infection of the virus than people who are unvaccinated. The vaccinated are about three times less likely to test positive for COVID-19.


Fauci responded to some of the more common questions he hears about vaccines and boosters. For instance, many wonder why a booster is necessary. Fauci said the COVID-19 vaccine's protection begins to weaken over time, unlike the vaccine for the measles which is measured in decades.

"That just happens to unfortunately not be the case when it comes to the coronavirus and particularly SARS-COV-2," he said.

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The measles remain a consistent strain, whereas COVID-19 has spawned several variants.

Fauci was asked what he hopes his legacy will be.

"I would like people to remember what I've done everyday for all of those years; I gave it everything I had," he said.

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Fauci's retirement ends a four-decade career in public health, where he served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He led the agency's response to AIDS, Ebola, swine flu, Zika and West Nile viruses, as as anthrax attacks.

Going forward, Jha said 12 public health organizations will take on a coordinated plan to push for COVID-19 and flu vaccinations over the next six weeks for the elderly and most vulnerable people.

"They know the best way to save lives this holiday season is to ensure that all Americans, especially seniors, get their updated COVID vaccine and flu vaccine," he said. "Today, we're launching a six-week sprint. Everything that people do now and in the next six weeks helps."


Dr. Anthony Fauci retiring: a look back

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a Senate committee hearing on the National Immunization Program's preparedness for future public health challenges on Capitol Hill in 2001. Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI | License Photo

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