U.S. President-elect Joe Biden confirmed Thursday that Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading scientist in the fight against the coronavirus, would continue to advise the next Democratic administration.
“I asked him to remain in exactly the same position he held with the last few presidents, and I asked him to also be my chief medical advisor and part of the COVID-19 team,” Biden told CNN.
The future White House chief has also said he will ask Americans to wear a mask during his first 100 days in office, a move he said “that won’t be forever,” but which could mean a “significant reduction” in the number of cases per day.
Biden has said that he will make the use of the mask mandatory in public spaces, such as federal buildings, or in interstate transportation, such as buses or airplanes, within his jurisdiction.
Mistrust of vaccines
Biden also referred to the “surprisingly low” expectations that a portion of the U.S. population has regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine and announced that as soon as Fauci believes it is safe, he will submit himself to the hearing.
“People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine. The numbers are staggeringly low, and the example of the president and vice president is important,” he said.
A day before these statements, his most immediate predecessors in office, except for Donald Trump, said they would volunteer to undergo the vaccine publicly to show their confidence in it.
“If Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, of course I’ll take it,” said former President Barack Obama, who proposed that the process could be televised so Americans would know, he said, that he trusts “this science. A formula that would be joined by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, according to CNN.
“I think my three predecessors have set the standard for what should be done, once it is declared safe, of course we will accept it, but it is also important to communicate it to the American people,” Biden said.
The United States, the country most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, has this week recorded a record number of people hospitalized after more than 100,000 patients were admitted nationwide.
The spike in cases is largely due, experts say, to reports of an impending vaccination campaign. The Center for Disease Control has also indicated that more vaccines are expected to be available before the end of the year.
In the last 24 hours, the United States has surpassed 14 million accumulated cases, according to the latest report offered by Johns Hopkins University, which has estimated the number of deaths at 275,550.
Possible last-minute pardons from Trump
Biden has also shown some concern over the latest news that his predecessor is considering several pardons, including those for his children, and a preventive one for his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuiliani, for his personal business in Ukraine.
“I’m concerned in terms of the precedents it may set and how the rest of the world sees us,” he said, although he said it is not up to Trump to tell how he should handle this matter, he did say that his administration will work with the justice system in “a totally different way.
“The Justice Department belongs to the people. So the person(s) he chooses to run that department will have the ability and independence to decide who is prosecuted and who is not,” he said.
Pending the appointment of a new attorney general, Biden is handling a string of names for the position, including former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and former assistant attorney general Sally Yates, but he is not ruling out soon-to-be-laid-off Alabama Senator Doug Jones.