Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS News that he would meet Thursday with members of President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team to discuss the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been a top official dealing with the pandemic. But President Donald Trump sidelined him at points during the year after Fauci’s stark warnings about the importance of wearing masks, social distancing and halting large-scale gatherings.
“I’m going to be meeting with them today, by Zoom,” Fauci told CBS News.
“So today will be the first day where there will be substantive discussions about the transition between me and the Biden team,” Fauci added. “I’m very pleased that today we’re having the first discussion about a number of things, vaccinations and things like that.”
Biden’s transition spokesmen didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Biden supported Fauci throughout the campaign and transition as an expert who could be trusted for guidelines on how to combat the virus – and whether promising vaccines are ready for widespread distribution, as expected later this month.
Fauci has warned about the prospects of a surge in infections after holiday gatherings and because more people are indoors during colder weather. But he has also offered assurances that vaccines regulated by the federal government will be safe.
Biden has repeatedly cautioned that even if vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are approved, it could take months and billions of dollars to distribute them nationwide.
Biden told reporters Tuesday that his staffers have spoken with Fauci, but that he hadn’t spoken directly with him.
“He’s been very, very helpful,” Biden said.
Fauci told CBS he has spoken to Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, a few times, but that the conversations weren’t “substantive,” according to CBS and CNN. Fauci has said he thought the Biden’s team was keeping him at arm’s length to avoid disputes with Trump.
Biden is expected to name his health team next week, after already announcing his foreign-affairs and economics teams.