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The Dr Anthony Fauci, The White House’s top Covid adviser reflected on the US response to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, in what was likely his last public briefing as the country’s top infectious disease expert.
Nearly three years after COVID-19 first reached US shores, Fauci said he never imagined the pandemic would last so long and take so many lives.
“I did not envision and I do not think any of my colleagues envisioned that we would see a three-year saga of suffering and death and a million Americans losing their lives,” Fauci, 81, said during a White House Covid update.
Fauci will resign in December as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, after nearly 40 years in the role and as White House chief medical adviser.
He said the most disturbing feature of Covid was the evolution of multiple variants, which changed the US response to the pandemic several times over.
On Tuesday, Fauci joined Biden’s other top adviser, Dr. Ashish Jha, to discuss the need for Americans to get the bivalent COVID vaccine.
Fauci offered Americans one final warning as he prepares to leave office, ending a tumultuous stay in the national spotlight that earned him enduring affection from some and unrelenting hostility from others.
“For your own safety, for your family’s safety, get your updated Covid-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible to protect yourself, your family and your community,” Fauci said.
As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci has been a near constant presence at White House briefings during the COVID pandemic.
It is possible that Fauci is called to testify before Congress despite leaving the government.
Republicans, who seized control of the House in the midterm elections, have signaled they want to investigate their role in overseeing the government’s response to COVID.
Fauci has said that, amid all the attacks on him, he and his family have faced death threats.
Fauci said Tuesday that he would fully cooperate with any oversight hearings conducted by the new Congress. “I have no problem testifying, we can expose and explain and defend everything that we have said, so I have nothing to hide,” he said.