Dr Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert on the White House’s coronavirus task force, suggested Monday that President Donald Trump’s delayed handoff to President-elect Joe Biden could slow the coronavirus vaccine rollout.
During an interview with NBC’s “Today,” Fauci said he’s “concerned” about the Trump administration’s refusal to recognise Biden as the election winner.
“I’ve served in six administrations so I’ve seen a number of transitions,” Fauci said. “So I know that transitions are very important. ... You just want things to go very smoothly. So, hopefully, we’ll see that soon.”
Trump has refused to concede the election, despite all major media networks projecting Biden as the winner. Several world leaders and Republican lawmakers have congratulated Biden on his victory, though the vast majority of GOP lawmakers have either declined to do so or have remained silent.
Trump has repeatedly ― and falsely ― declared himself the winner. His campaign has alleged voter fraud and ballot-counting irregularities, but has failed to provide evidence of widespread issues.
The head of the government’s General Services Administration ― a Trump appointee ― has refused to “ascertain” Biden as the president-elect, blocking funds and access to offices and personnel that would facilitate a transition between presidencies.
Moncef Slaoui, a pharmaceuticals executive whom Trump appointed to accelerate the development of a vaccine, called on the White House last week to make contact with Biden’s transition team.
“I totally agree with him, very much so,” Fauci told NBC, referring to Slaoui’s comments. “I mean the virus is not going to stop and call a timeout while things change. The virus is just going to keep going. The process is just going to keep going.”
Fauci applauded the news Monday that biotechnology company Moderna reported that preliminary data shows its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective. Last week, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced its vaccine was 90% effective.
“This is something that is just now going in the very, very strong, right direction,” Fauci said of the vaccines. “We want to get it approved as quickly as we possibly can. We want to get doses to people starting in December and then we want to really get the ball rolling as we get into January, February and March.”
“We want a smooth process for that,” he continued. “And the way you do that is by essentially having the two groups speak to each other and exchange information.”
Fauci told CNN on Sunday that it would be “better” if his team could begin working with the incoming Biden administration.