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Fauci urges updated coronavirus snaps in White House ‘final message’


Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, who has served under seven presidents, used his farewell speech from the White House podium on Tuesday to urge Americans to get the coronavirus vaccine.

Fauci, 81, has announced he will be leaving public service next month, resigning as President Biden’s top medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which he has led for 38 years. year.

Fauci appeared in the briefing room alongside White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Ashish Jha, the White House’s covid-19 response coordinator, as the Biden administration launched a campaign six weeks to encourage Americans to get the updated snaps.

My message and my last message – perhaps the last message I give you from this podium – is that please, for your own safety, for that of your family, get your updated covid-19 vaccine as soon as that you are eligible to protect yourself, your family and your community,” he said.

Fauci has become the face of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, drawing praise and harsh criticism as he and his family have received death threats. Some Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have called for Fauci’s firing, questioning the science behind vaccines, masks and other public health measures and pushing conspiracy claims that Fauci would have a role in the origin of the coronavirus.

Jean-Pierre and Jha offered kind words to Fauci, who reflected as he answered reporters’ questions about the toll of the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 6.6 million people worldwide, including about 1 .1 million confirmed deaths in the United States.

“When I see people in this country – because of the division in our country – not getting vaccinated for reasons that have nothing to do with public health, but because of the division and the ideological differences, as a doctor, it hurts me, because I don’t want to see anyone get infected,” he said on Tuesday. “I don’t want to see anyone hospitalized and I don’t want to see anyone die of covid. Whether you’re a far-right Republican or a far-left Democrat, it makes no difference to me.

At one point, Fauci acknowledged that those who wear masks are often singled out, joking with a reporter: “I mean, you’re absolutely right. I mean, I know sometimes when you walk in and you’re wearing a mask and nobody has a mask, you feel a little guilty. You shouldn’t feel guilty. You are gorgeous, aren’t you? »

Fauci took over the little-known National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1984 after joining parent agency, the National Institutes of Health, as a 27-year-old doctor fresh out of medical residency. Considered a rising star when he joined the NIH in 1968, Fauci eventually advised seven presidents and ended up being on the front lines of every major health event since then, including AIDS, Ebola and coronavirus scares. anthrax in 2001. During this time, the institute has grown from an annual budget of $350 million to its current budget of over $6 billion.

Fauci was well known and widely quoted in the scientific community before the coronavirus pandemic made him the target of Republican lawmakers and media figures. During the early days of the AIDS epidemic, it was activists who frequently criticized the government for its slow response to the deaths of many members of the LGBT community. In the age of social media and 24-hour news, criticism — and conspiracy theories — aimed at Fauci and the government have multiplied.

The missteps of the early days of the pandemic, such as failing to recognize that asymptomatic people were the main spreaders of the virus and dismissing the need for masks, seriously damaged his credibility with some people, including Donald Trump, who questioned question Fauci’s expertise towards the end of his presidency.

“When you deal with an evolving epidemic with the information, you get changes from week to week and month to month,” Fauci said. “We probably need to do a better job of talking to the public, explaining that this is a dynamic situation that could change.”

“The only thing people heard when they sent it back to you was, ‘Well, you said we didn’t have to worry about anything’, so you have to make sure you always emphasize nature. dynamic of what you’re dealing with,” Fauci added.

Several Republicans — including some in the GOP-controlled House — have pledged to investigate Fauci’s handling of the pandemic in the upcoming Congress. Fauci said on Tuesday he would cooperate with potential requests from lawmakers.

“If there are oversight hearings, I will absolutely cooperate and testify before Congress,” he said. “Obviously you may not know this, but I’ve testified before Congress a few hundred times over the past 40 or so years, so I have no difficulty testifying. We can defend, explain and maintain everything what we said. So I have nothing to hide.”

Rand Paul says US botched covid. He could soon carry out investigations about him.

Fauci previously told the Post that he is not leaving the public square but hopes to teach, lecture and write while inspiring and teaching a younger generation of scientists. He originally planned to retire at the end of Trump’s presidency but stayed put when Biden asked him to join his administration. Fauci spoke with pride and a sense of accomplishment from his more than two years overseeing the White House’s response to the pandemic.

What I would like people to take away from what I have done is that every day for all these years, I gave it my all and I never left anything on the pitch. he said on Tuesday.

Yasmeen Abutaleb contributed to this report.


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