Joe Biden asked Anthony Fauci to stay on in his administration to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, the president-elect said Thursday.
Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Biden said he spoke with the country’s top infectious disease expert earlier in the day, asking him to remain in his position leading the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Biden also asked Fauci to serve as his chief medical adviser and on his Covid team.
Fauci has been in his NIAID role dating to Ronald Reagan’s administration and has grown to become one of the most trusted authorities on the coronavirus across both parties.
Biden also said he would ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days after his inauguration in a nationwide effort to curb the spread of the disease. Biden has floated mask mandates in the past, but the 100-day time element adds a new detail to the next administration’s Covid policy.
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have made it a point to publicly wear masks and socially distance their campaign events — a stark contrast from President Donald Trump.
“The president and vice president, we set the pattern by wearing masks,” Biden said Thursday.
A 100-day timeframe would be enough for about 100 million people — roughly those who have the greatest vulnerabilities to the virus — to receive a vaccine, according to estimates from Moncef Slaoui, scientific head of Operation Warp Speed.
Two potential vaccines are showing increasingly promising signs of efficacy. One candidate, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, garnered approval from British authorities this week and is up for FDA consideration this month.
During his CNN interview, Biden said he would be willing to take the vaccine publicly as soon as Fauci says it’s safe, in an effort to boost public confidence. He joins a host of prominent figures who made similar commitments, including former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Harris also said “of course” she would get vaccinated if one is deemed safe but would wait until after more vulnerable Americans were vaccinated.
“What has to be done is we have to make it clear to the American people that the vaccine is safe,” Biden told Tapper.
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