The top infectious disease expert who became a household name during the Covid-19 pandemic, announced he will depart the government in December after more than five decades of service.

Fauci said that he is not retiring and is instead pursuing the next chapter of his career.
Fauci said that he is not retiring and is instead pursuing the next chapter of his career. (AP)

Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert who became the face of America's fight against Covid-19, has announced that he will leave government service after more than 50 years in December.

He said in a statement on Monday that he would be leaving both his position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and that of chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden.

Fauci, who has served under seven presidents beginning with Ronald Reagan, said "I am not retiring." 

Instead the 81-year-old, who had said he would leave by the end of Biden's current term, said he now intended to "pursue the next chapter of my career."

Biden extended his "deepest thanks" to Fauci in a White House statement, adding that the country "is stronger, more resilient and healthier because of him."

Fauci said it had been the "honour of a lifetime" to lead the NIAID, which he has done since 1984.

He did not spell out what he will do next, but said he wants to inspire and mentor the next generation, citing the "energy and passion" he still has for the field despite his decades of service.

"I am proud to have been part of this important work," he said.

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Fauci's accomplishments

When Covid first spread globally in 2020, Fauci became a credible source of reliable information, reassuring the public with his calm and professorial demeanor during frequent media appearances.

However, his clashes with former President Donald Trump over the virus response drew anger from the right and he now lives with security protection following death threats against his family.

Fauci has helmed the United States' response to infectious disease outbreaks since the 1980s, from HIV/AIDS to Covid-19.

Fauci's accomplishments also include implementing a fast-track system that widened access to antiretroviral medicines, and working with former President George H.W. Bush to plow in more resources.

Later, under President George W. Bush, Fauci was the architect of the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), credited with saving millions of lives in sub-Saharan Africa.

As a scientist, he is credited with developing effective treatments for formerly fatal inflammatory diseases, as well as for contributions into understanding how HIV destroys the body's defences.

Despite his many duties, he had continued to treat patients at the NIH's Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. It was not clear if that was part of his plans going forward.

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Source: AFP