Fauci expected Covid-19 to be 'behind us' a year into Biden's term

Dr Anthony Fauci had advised seven US presidents on outbreaks ranging from HIV to Ebola to Covid-19. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci expected the US would have moved past the Covid-19 pandemic after the first year of the Biden administration, but the disruption from the virus has lingered longer than the infectious disease expert anticipated.

"I thought after yet again another year we would have Covid-19 behind us, but as it turns out, that's not the case," he said in a taped interview that was set to appear at noon New York time on Thursday (Aug 25) on Bloomberg Television and Radio's Balance of Power with Mr David Westin.

The infectious diseases expert spoke three days after announcing that he will end more than a half-century career as a civil servant this December.

Dr Fauci has spent 38 years as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, advising seven presidents on outbreaks ranging from human immunodeficiency virus to Ebola to Covid-19.

Dr Fauci said he considered resigning at the end of the Trump administration since he was in good health and "passionate about doing other things outside of the confines of the government".

But he agreed to stay on when President Joe Biden asked him to be a top adviser and expected his tenure to last about a year.

Dr Fauci decried the political polarisation that impeded America's response to Covid-19 and said he would advise his successor - who has yet to be named - to stay out of politics.

"The country has come to a state where even politicians are saying things that are triggering thoughts of violence and harassment against me and my family, but that's just the state of our nation," he said.

"I accept that. I don't like it."

The threats did not play a role in his decision to step down, he said.

The US needs to learn the lessons of Covid-19 to be ready for future outbreaks, he said, calling the culture at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention "not optimal" for responding to a global pandemic.

"The good news is they now realise that," he said.

He said he is announcing his departure now because the nation has the countermeasures available to combat the virus.

"We've just got to get more people vaccinated and more people boosted," Dr Fauci said.

"But I think we're really on the threshold of getting Covid-19 to the point where it is at a level where it is low enough that we can actually not have it disrupt the social order."

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