President-elect Joe Biden told CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday that he has asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to be a chief medical adviser and part of his Covid-19 response team when his administration begins next year.
Biden said the conversation happened on Thursday afternoon. CNN reported earlier in the day that Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, had a planned meeting with Biden’s transition team.
“I asked him to stay on the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the Covid team,” Biden told Tapper as part of the first joint interview with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Biden added that Ron Klain, his incoming chief of staff, knew Fauci well and had been talking to him “all the time.”
Fauci has had a complicated relationship with Trump ever since he began advising the Republican leader on the coronavirus response, with the President often flouting the recommendations of Fauci and other scientific leaders. Those clashes have made Fauci the focus of public attention, often seen as a hero on the left for his commitment to science in the face of Trump’s comments and a villain on the right, especially among Trump loyalists.
Biden described his coronavirus plans as a balance between ensuring that Americans believe the vaccine is safe and instituting a number of plans that will curb the spread of the virus without shutting down the economy. Biden said that on the day he is inaugurated he plans to ask the public to wear a mask for at least 100 days.
“Just 100 days to mask, not forever 100 days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction,” he said.
Biden also said during the interview that he will be “happy to” get a coronavirus vaccine once Fauci says it is safe and that he will get the vaccine publicly to demonstrate his confidence in it.
“That’s the moment in which I will stand before the public” and get the vaccine, Biden said. “People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work. Already the numbers are really staggeringly low, and it matters what the President and vice president do.”
Biden’s comments come a day after three of his presidential predecessors — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — said they would publicly get a coronavirus vaccine as a way to demonstrate its safety and efficacy.
“I think that my three predecessors have set the model as to what should be done, saying, once it’s declared to be safe… then obviously we take it and it’s important to communicate to the American people,” Biden said.