“I asked him to stay in the same role as he had with several previous presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical consultant for me as well and be part of the Covid team,” Biden said on CNN’s Jake Tapper. Biden and Kamala Harris have been elected vice presidents since their first joint interview.
Biden added that Ron Klain, the incoming chief of staff of the White House, knows Fauci well and spoke to him “constantly.”
Fauci previously told CNN he had “worked very closely” with Klain during the Ebola epidemic when Klain was tasked with coordinating the Obama administration’s responses to the crisis. He praised Klain as the “excellent choice” of the White House chief of staff, and said it was “absolutely awful because of the Ebola situation, where we had a very successful endgame with Ebola.”
CNN reported earlier in the day that Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergic and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus working group, had a scheduled meeting with Biden’s transition team.
Fauci has had initial conversations with Biden’s helpers, including Klain, in recent days as part of the expected role of an infectious disease expert in the Biden administration.
Plans for the meeting were first reported by CBS.
When Biden takes office on Jan. 20, one of the most pressing priorities will be to curb the coronavirus epidemic, which killed more than 273,000 Americans by Thursday morning, and to oversee the nationwide distribution of vaccines, if available.
Fauci, who has a long career under six presidents on both sides, is a senior member of President Donald Trump’s White House coronavirus task force. Since 1984, he has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Trump has outperformed his own medical experts and neglected scientists. The president refused to take basic steps to curb the virus, namely, refusing to wear a mask in public for several months and holding large gatherings without social distancing.
Biden, on the other hand, has long promised to listen to the advice of scientists and public health experts about the epidemic. He wore a mask at public events and stressed the importance of complying with public health guidelines.
The first major announcement by the elected president after the election winner was predicted was the announcement of a 12-member coronavirus advisory board to guide him through the transition. Among the group of public health experts is Rick Bright, a Trump government notifier who claimed his early warnings about the pandemic had been ignored and eventually led to his removal.
The working group was chaired by former surgeon Vivek Murthy, former food and pharmaceutical commissioner David Kessler and chaired by Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith of Yale University. The other 13 members include Dr. Luciana Borio, a member of the External Relations Council’s Global Health Officer, and Dr. Zeke Emanuel, an architect of the Affordable Care Act and a former health adviser to Obama.
This story has been updated with additional background about the coronavirus epidemic and Fauci, as well as Biden’s remarks in a CNN interview on Thursday.