Fauci to brief reporters for likely the last time as top US health official

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci is scheduled to brief reporters Tuesday for what is likely to be the last time before he steps down as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

>> Read more trending news

Fauci is expected to speak at a White House news briefing. On Monday, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Fauci and White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha would discuss the push to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19.

Fauci announced over the summer that he planned to step down from his role “to pursue the next chapter of my career.” The 81-year-old has spent more than five decades working for the government. He became head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1984.

As the agency’s direct, he led research into illnesses including respiratory infections, malaria, Ebola and Zika. He has served as a key figure in the federal government’s response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic since President Donald Trump formed his White House Coronavirus Task Force in 2020.

The 81-year-old has advised seven presidents and was a principal architect of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The program has been credited with saving 21 million lives and preventing millions of HIV infections worldwide.

On Tuesday, he’s expected to talk about the White House’s newly unveiled campaign to encourage more Americans to get the updated COVID-19 vaccine that targets both the original strain of the virus and two subvariants of omicron.

As part of the campaign, officials are expanding the places where people can get the updated vaccines with a focus on seniors and other highly impacted communities. Authorities are also boosting funding for community health centers and for efforts to get disabled and older Americans vaccinated.

As of last week, nearly 81% of the U.S. population has gotten at least one dose of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost 69% of Americans have been fully vaccinated, CDC data shows. About 11% of people aged five and older have gotten the updated COVID-19 booster shot.

Since the start of the pandemic, officials have confirmed more than 98.3 million COVID-19 infections and reported over 1 million deaths nationwide, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 638.4 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, resulting in 6.6 million deaths, according to the university.