Fauci expected to meet with Biden transition team Thursday


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Fauci has had initial conversations with Biden aides, including incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain, in recent days as part of the infectious diseases expert’s expected role in the Biden administration.

The expected meeting was first reported by CBS.

The meeting — scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. with Biden’s “landing team” assigned to the National Institutes of Health — comes one day after the US reported its highest one-day coronavirus death tally and as health care officials say their staff and facilities are struggling to supporting the rising number of patients. More than 2,800 Covid-19 deaths were reported on Wednesday. The number of Covid-19 patients in US hospitals Wednesday also is the highest reported on a given day during the pandemic — 100,226, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

One of Biden’s most urgent priorities when he takes office on January 20 will be to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 273,000 Americans as of Thursday morning, and to oversee the national distribution of a vaccine when one becomes available.

Fauci, who has a lengthy career serving under six presidents from both parties, is a leading member of President Donald Trump’s White House coronavirus task force. He has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.

The infectious disease expert has been critical of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic. He told The Washington Post in October that the United States needed to make an “abrupt change” in public health practices and behaviors, and said that the White House coronavirus task force meets less frequently and has far less influence as Trump and his advisers have focused on reopening the country. He was also critical of Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no training in the field of infectious disease, who the President has relied on for advice on handling the pandemic. Atlas recently resigned from his post in the Trump administration.

Fauci previously told CNN that he worked “very closely” with Klain during the Ebola outbreak when Klain was tasked with coordinating the Obama administration’s response to the crisis. He praised Klain as an “excellent choice” for White House chief of staff and said he was “absolutely terrific at the Ebola situation where we had a very successful ultimate endgame with Ebola.”

Since the pandemic began, Trump has undercut his own medical experts and sidelined scientists. The President has refused to take basic steps to control the virus, notably declining to wear a mask in public for several months and holding large rallies with no social distancing.

Biden, by contrast, has long pledged to listen to the advice of scientists and public health experts about the pandemic. He has worn a mask at public events and stressed the importance of adhering to public health guidelines.

The President-elect’s first major announcement after being projected the winner of the election was to announce a 12-member coronavirus advisory board to guide him during the transition. Among the group of public health experts is Rick Bright, a whistleblower from the Trump administration who alleged that his early warnings about the pandemic were ignored and ultimately led to his removal.

The task force is chaired by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler and Yale University’s Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. Among the other 13 members are Dr. Luciana Borio, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Dr. Zeke Emanuel, one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act and an ex-Obama health adviser.

This story has been updated with additional background about the coronavirus pandemic and Fauci.

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