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Dr. Fauci delivers final briefing before exiting government service

Anthony Fauci, Ashish Jha
Posted at 11:16 AM, Nov 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-23 11:23:31-05

Dr. Anthony Fauci has used the White House briefing room to update Americans about the United States’ progress toward fighting COVID-19.

On Tuesday, he delivered what will likely be his final update. Fauci previously announced that he will retire from his role as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the end of the year.

Although Fauci became the face of the government’s response to COVID-19, he has been in his current role for more than 40 years. He has been part of the U.S. response to many infectious diseases, including HIV, ebola and others.

“For so many Americans throughout our fight with COVID, Dr. Faucihas been a source of information and facts. But Dr. Fauci’s leadership and legacy stretch far beyond the past couple of years, as you all have known him. It -- it actually goes back even further,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

While considered a leading source of information on the pandemic, he also drew ire from a handful of conservative lawmakers, including Sen. Rand Paul. Paul has accused Fauci of not being forthright about the suspected origins of the COVID-19 virus.

Several reporters attempted to ask Fauci questions about the virus's origins during Tuesday’s briefing but were denied by Jean-Pierre.

“You’re being disrespectful to your colleagues, and you’re being disrespectful to our guests. I will not call on you if you yell,” she told the reporter.

While some politicians have suggested COVID-19 started in a laboratory, leading scientists say the virus most likely originated from a wet market in Wuhan, China, and then spread from animals to humans.

These questions have added some cloudiness to Fauci’s time leading the nation’s COVID response.

“I'll let other people judge the value or not of my accomplishments,” Fauci told reporters on Tuesday. “But 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.”

Fauci had one final message as he departs the job.

“My message, and my final message, is maybe the final message that I give you from this podium is please, for your own safety, for that of your family, get your updated COVID-19 shot as soon as you're eligible to protect yourself, your family and your community.” he said. “I urge you to visit vaccines.gov to find a location where you can easily get an updated vaccine and please do it as soon as possible.”

As of Tuesday, about 11% of eligible Americans have gotten an updated COVID-19 booster, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.