Chief Medical Advisor to the President of the United States Dr. Anthony Fauci said retirement soon may be a possibility.
The doctor then seemed to contradict himself, saying he would not know what to do if he retired.
“I can’t stay at this job forever, unless my staff is going to find me slumped over my desk one day,” Dr. Fauci said, adding, “I’d rather not do that.”
His remarks were given in the latest edition of the ABC News podcast “Start Here” that aired Friday.
Fauci despaired that he is a one-dimensional sort of person whose life is wrapped up in his roles as physician, scientist and public health person. “When I do decide I’m going to step down—whenever that is—I’m going to have to figure out what I’m going to do,” Fauci said. “I’d love to spend more time with my wife and family. That would be nice.”
The 81-year-old was appointed director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1984 when Ronald Reagan was president.
Before the podcast host asked about his retirement plans, he quizzed Fauci about the state of COVID-19 in the United States.
The president’s medical advisor said the omicron variant (BA-1) was very contagious but not as lethal as earlier variants, such as Delta. That was the good news; the bad news is the newest variant, dubbed BA-2 is reportedly 30 percent more contagious. He pointed to a surge in British cases as something to keep an eye on, saying that country seemed to foreshadow what the United States experienced from the coronavirus.
“What they’re seeing in the UK right now is a bit of a rebound,” Fauci said. “They’re attributing that to BA-2 being more transmissible.” He added the British health authorities are pulling back on some of their mitigation strategies like wearing masks. “There’s a waning of immunity that’s associated with either prior infection or vaccination,” he said, adding he wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit of a surge in the U.S.
Dr. Fauci said the British are seeing more cases and hospitalizations associated with COVID-19 but they are not seeing an increase in severity. So, more cases but not more deaths.
When asked if mask wearing will be required again, he replied, “I hope not,” adding, “they said if things turn around and we see an increase in hospitalizations, we need to be flexible and prepared to reinstate mitigation such as wearing of masks in indoor settings.”
“People are kind of done with COVID,” said Fauci, “but COVID may not be done with us.”
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