Dr. Anthony Fauci said he will meet with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team Thursday to discuss the incoming administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the rollout of vaccines, according to a report.
“Today will be the first day where there will be substantive discussions about the transition between me and the Biden team,” Fauci said in an interview for @TakeoutPodcast.
The top US infectious diseases expert also told CBS News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett that he will stay on at the National Institutes of Health, where he heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci said he had already spoken to Biden’s incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, adding that those conversations were not “substantive” yet – but that he expected to have substantive talks Thursday with the “landing team.”
The team comprises officials who will discuss the new administration’s priorities to ensure a smooth transition and allow Biden to begin working on addressing the pandemic as soon as he enters the White House, according to CBS News.
“I’m going to be meeting with them today, by Zoom, by virtually. So today will be the first day where there will be substantive discussions about the transition between me and the Biden team,” Fauci said.
“I’m very pleased that today we’re having the first discussion about a number of things, vaccinations and things like that,” he added.
Fauci, 79, who became NIAID chief in 1984, said that the transition was vital to making it possible for the incoming administration to hit the ground running.
“Having served six administrations, I’ve been through five transitions, and I know that transitions are really important if you want to get a smooth handing over of the responsibility,” he said on the podcast, which will air in full on Friday.
The transition process was delayed when Emily Murphy, who heads the General Services Administration, waited until the end of November to sign a letter releasing federal funds and allowing members of the Biden transition team to meet with current agency officials.
Biden has argued that delay cost lives because it shortened the period of time his team has to work with experts like Fauci, who said Thursday that he would have liked the process to begin sooner.
However, he did not go so far as to say that the shortened transition process would result in more deaths from the deadly bug.
“I would have liked to have seen us getting involved with the team as early as we possibly can because we want the smooth transition to occur,” Fauci said. “Everyone believes that a smooth transition is certainly better than no transition.”
Fauci said that he has not yet spoken with Biden, but that he expects to do so in the near future.
He said he also expects that the incoming president will want him to continue advising him about the pandemic.
“I am almost certain that he’s going to want me to do that, because that’s what I do,” Fauci said.