Fauci gives ‘final message’ to Americans in last public briefing after 54 years of service

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White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr Anthony Fauci made his final appearance in the White House briefing room before his retirement on Tuesday and shared that his work fighting the novel coronavirus was “just a fragment” of his more than 54 years in government service and four decades heading the National Allergy and Infectious Disease Institute.

Dr Fauci told reporters he would “let other people judge the value” of his accomplishments over his decades in the public health field and said he wants to be remembered as someone who gave his full measure for every day of his career.

“What I would like people to remember about what I’ve done is that every day for all of those years, I’ve given it everything that I have and I’ve never left anything on the field,” he said. “So if they want to remember me — whether they judge rightly or wrongly what I’ve done — I gave it all I got for many decades”.

The veteran virologist, who rose to prominence during the HIV/Aids crisis and who has led NIAID since the Reagan administration, appeared in the James Brady Briefing Room as part of a White House push to encourage Americans to be vaccinated against Covid-19 with the most updated bivalent boosters, which protect against the original strain of Sars-CoV-2 and the more recent variants.

He told reporters the vaccines “can prevent essentially every Covid death in America”.

“That is a remarkable fact. Two and a half years after we found this virus first in our country, but it’s going to take all of us to make that happen, so please don’t wait,” he said.

Dr Fauci did not address the high level of threats he has recieved since he became the public face of the government’s response to Covid-19 in 2020, but he did decry what he described the polarisation that has caused many in America to see being vaccinated against Covid or wearing a mask to prevent transmitting or contracting the virus as a political act.

He said one thing he remembers from his days as a medical student, intern, and resident physician was the duty to “treat everybody the same because you cared about them and you wanted everyone to walk out healthy”.

“So when I see people in this country, because of the divisiveness in our country, are not getting vaccinated for reasons that have nothing to do with public health, but have to do because of divisiveness and ideological differences, as a physician, it pains me because I don’t want to see anybody get infected,” he said.

“I don’t want to see anybody hospitalized. And I don’t want to see anybody die from Covid, whether you’re a far-right Republican or a far-left Democrat doesn’t make any difference to me. I look upon it the same way as I did in the emergency room in the middle of New York City when I was taking care of everybody that was coming in off the street”.

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