Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has not spoken to Donald Trump since the President was hospitalized with COVID-19 over a month ago.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday: “I spoke with him [Trump] during his time at Walter Reed [National Military Medical Center] when he was sick with COVID-19. We had a conversation during that time”.
Trump was admitted to the facility on October 2 after testing positive for coronavirus and was released on October 5.
Fauci’s remarks supported reports that he and other members of the coronavirus task force were set aside in favor of individuals such as White House advisor Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who is not an expert in infectious diseases or epidemiology. During the pandemic, Fauci made sure that public health messages were maintained in the interviews. However, at the end of October, he told the Washington Post that he had “real problems” with Atlas and asked if he had the expertise to serve as a coronavirus advisor at the White House.
On Monday, Blitzer asked Fauci what the experts appointed to the Biden Harris Transitional Advisory Council COVID-19 think about the new administration’s approach to the pandemic. Fauci told Blitzer that they were “all established people” and people he knew well and had been dealing with for years. “They are qualified colleagues,” he said.
Advisory board members include Dr. Vivek Murthy, former surgeon general under President Barack Obama; Dr. David Kessler, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Fauci, a top immunologist, was not among those named, although Biden said at a campaign rally before election day that he would “hire” him after Trump threatened to fire the doctor.
Experts said on Monday in Washington Newsday that while it would not be appropriate for Biden to appoint Fauci to his COVID advisory board while he is still a member of the current administration’s task force, he would likely help with the transition process.
Fauci did not want to say whether he had talked to Joe Biden since he took office as elected president and said he wanted to focus on getting a vaccine on the market and bringing the country back to normality. He spoke on the day when the pharmaceutical company Pfizer claimed its coronavirus vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19, marking an important milestone in the pandemic.
Fauci said he plans to remain in his role with NIAID, which he has held since 1984, and in the government.
“I have no intention of leaving, this is an important task. I’ve been doing it for a very long time now, I’ve done it under six presidents, it’s an important job, and my goal is to serve the American public, no matter what the government is,” Fauci said.