President George W. Bush awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Anthony Fauci for his work in fighting AIDS during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House in June 2008. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
July 18 (UPI) -- Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday that he plans to leave federal service by the end of President Joe Biden's term while indicating that the United States may be dealing with COVID-19 for decades to come.
"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," Fauci said in an interview with Politico.
Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser and the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confirmed his plans in comments to CNN but added that he has not yet started the process of retiring.
He told CNN that he "will very likely" retire by the end of Biden's term, which ends in January 2025, and that he wants to pursue other opportunities when he does leave the federal government.
"Everybody in a position of any influence in my institute, I handpick. So it's something that I've been working on now for four decades. So we have a good system in place," Fauci told CNN.
"Obviously, you can't go on forever. I do want to do other things in my career, even though I'm at a rather advanced age. I have the energy and the passion to continue to want to pursue other aspects of my professional career and I'm going to do that some time."
Fauci, 81, helped lead the United States through several public health crises including the HIV/AIDS epidemic and outbreaks of the Ebola and Zika viruses before emerging as a key figure in the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The top doctor has been targeted by former President Donald Trump and his supporters for his endorsement of lockdowns and other restrictions amid the pandemic, and has fought back against claims that the virus was created in a lab in Wuhan, China, where it emerged.
He has also warned against the use of the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin to treat COVID-19, touted by supporters of the former president -- earning him their ire.
Fauci told Politico on Monday that he also wants to help repair the deepening polarization in American politics that the pandemic helped to magnify, expressing that he and Trump have much in common, having both been born in outer boroughs of New York City.
"We developed an interesting relationship," Fauci said. "Two guys from New York, different in their opinions and their ideology, but still, two guys who grew up in the same environments of this city. I think that we are related to each other in that regard."
Fauci said he expects to face heavy scrutiny from lawmakers if Republicans take control of the House or Senate after the midterm elections and said he would stress the importance of vaccines if called to testify in a congressional hearing.
"They're going to try and come after me, anyway. I mean, probably less so if I'm not in the job," Fauci said. "I don't make that a consideration in my career decision."