Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and President Biden’s chief medical advisor, announced he will step down from those positions in December.
“While I am moving on from my current positions, I am not retiring,” said Fauci in a statement on August 22. “After more than 50 years of government service, I plan to pursue the next phase of my career while I still have so much energy and passion for my field.
“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,” said Fauci.
Fauci, 81, has worked in the federal government for nearly his entire career. Fauci joined the National Institutes of Health in 1968 after finishing his medical residency and went on to lead NIAID in 1984, where he remains today. Fauci became a public figure during the AIDS, ebola, Zeka, and anthrax situations, and his fame soared during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fauci on the Hotseat
Fauci hinted at retirement in the spring when questions about his handling of the pandemic began to skyrocket. Fauci has been criticized for suppressing evidence of the origins of the COVID-19 virus, discrediting scientists and doctors who questioned the lockdowns, using tax dollars to support gain-of-function research in China, making hundreds of media appearances during a pandemic, and most recently, not being forthcoming about royalty payments from private companies to NIH scientists under his wing.
In an interview on August 22, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Congress might subpoena Fauci even if he retires.
“And I say absolutely we should,” said Paul on the Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show.
Concerns About Royalties
Asked what accountability would look like, Paul said he wants to get more transparency about the royalty payments.
“Through FOIA, Freedom of Information, outside organizations have found out that 1,800 doctors that are on the payroll of the NIH also received $193 million in royalties from the pharmaceutical companies,” Paul told the interviewers.
“We should be told—without question, we should be told—whether or not any of these people sit on the vaccine committees,” said Paul on the show. “Did any of them receive royalties from the companies that made the vaccines? When I asked Dr. Fauci this question, he got all up in arms, started rattling on.”
The government watchdog organization Open the Books has been working with the government accountability group Judicial Watch to look into the royalty payments.
“OpenTheBooks.com has relentlessly investigated these private royalty payments because we’ve seen the drastic impact public health guidance can have on Americans’ lives and well-being,” Adam Andrzejewski, CEO, and founder of Open the Books, told Health Care News. “The public needs to know precisely how these decisions get made and why, including whether there are financial or other stakes involved.
The royalties raise serious doubts about the NIH’s integrity, says Andrzejewski.
“Dr. Fauci and Acting Director [Lawrence A.] Tabak have already begun facing some criticism over royalty payments from Republicans in the House and Senate,” said Andrzejewski. “But the fact of the matter is, if politicians want to restore confidence in public health agencies, then this should be a bipartisan concern. Sen. Paul has consistently led the way, but lawmakers from both sides of the aisle need to get involved and take these investigations seriously.
“We’re grateful that Sen. Paul remains committed to getting transparency for the public when it comes to how the NIH operates and whether leadership have inappropriate stakes in the decision-making process,” said Andrzejewski. “Whether or not Dr. Fauci is there, whether or not it’s run by Dr. Collins or Tabak, these issues remain and demand answers.”
AnneMarie Schieber (email@example.com) is the managing editor of Health Care News.
U.S. House Appropriations on royalty payment, May 14, 2022:
Homeland Security Government Accountability Committee Letter To NIH: