Beginning in 2023, we won’t have Dr. Anthony Fauci to kick around any more. After 54 years in government service, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as the White House’s chief medical advisor, is leaving his jobs—don’t say “retiring”—and, at 82, is headed to his next adventure.
It’s hard to imagine anything more adventurous than what he has been through in the past three pandemic years. The country—well, most of it—sympathized with his anguish as he tried to decode the ever-shifting challenges of Covid while his former White House boss, at various times, named the infection with a racial slur, claimed it was no worse than flu (it’s killed a million people in the US alone so far), and suggested it might be treated with a good injection of bleach. Fauci’s role as the highly qualified, avuncular explainer-in-chief heading a critical research lab won him many fans, but as the pandemic progressed, it also made him a target for those who sniffed conspiracy or simply got sick of following guidelines that might save their lives.
Steven Levy: Let’s talk about this winter. Do you expect those two new Covid variants BQ.1 and BQ1.1—they don’t really trip off the tongue—to dominate very soon?
Anthony Fauci: It looks like it’s going in that direction. They went from a fraction of a fraction, to a few, to now double digits. I do expect that, as we’ve seen in other countries, those variants will likely play a role. But they’re not the only ones. You know, there’s BA4.6, BF.7. And then there’s the others that aren’t even here yet that are lingering in other countries.
A worthwhile read.