What legacy does Fauci leave behind?

After a long career, Anthony Fauci is retiring as the face of America's COVID response

Anthony Fauci.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images)

Dr. Anthony Fauci is retiring from government service. The nation's top infectious disease expert — and the face of the U.S. government's response to the COVID pandemic — said Monday he will leave his role at the end of the year. "I want to use what I have learned as NIAID Director to continue to advance science and public health and to inspire and mentor the next generation of scientific leaders as they help prepare the world to face future infectious disease threats," he said in a public statement.

Fauci leaves government with more than 50 years in public service, and having served seven presidents, but — for better and for worse — has drawn the most attention of his career during the coronavirus pandemic. For some, he's been a hero. "Without Fauci's steady leadership, the COVID-19 pandemic would have created more havoc on our country than we could possibly imagine," the Kansas City Star said in an editorial. For others, mostly on the right, his role in urging lockdowns and vaccines has made him a villain. "His overgrown ego … led him to promote the most destructive federal and state policies in recent US memory," the New York Post editorialized. What will be Anthony Fauci's ultimate legacy?

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Joel Mathis, The Week US

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who has spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His work also regularly appears in National Geographic, The Kansas City Star and Heatmap News. His awards include best online commentary at the Online News Association and (twice) at the City and Regional Magazine Association.