No promises have been broken.
President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced a 13-member Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. The Biden campaign's transition website posted a statement about the new panel, quoting the president-elect as saying: "Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts. The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations."
While many may have been hoping or expecting Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to be named to the transition board, there's a simple explanation for why he wasn't.
As Jeff Schlegelmilch, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Earth Institute, told Newsweek, Fauci is still a member of the White House coronavirus task force and is therefore currently ineligible to serve on Biden's transition board.
"What we would hope to see is the current White House Task Force working closely with the Biden-Harris team to help ensure a smooth transition in January," Schlegelmilch said. "In this respect, Fauci, [Dr. Deborah] Birx and the rest of the current White House Task Force would be very instrumental in informing Biden's COVID-19 Advisory Board going into the transition."
Schlegelmilch noted that the federal response to the coronavirus could be another hostage to Donald Trump's refusal to concede defeat in the 2020 election: "Of course, how this actually plays out still remains to be seen with the White House still not conceding the election loss," he told Newsweek. "This could translate into restricting these important collaborations and coordination of a responsible transition of government, especially in the midst of a pandemic that has cost nearly a quarter of a million American lives so far."
Meanwhile, some on the right have claimed Biden had somehow gone back on a promise based on the fact that, in a tweet in September, Biden had said, "Minutes after the race is called, I'll call Dr. Fauci and ask him to stay on."
"During my transition, I'll bring together experts and leaders from both parties to chart a path forward," Biden went on.
And besides not being able to appoint someone who is already serving on a White House task force, Biden has also said he will add more experts to the transition advisory board, currently chaired by former Food and Drug Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and Yale School of Medicine associate professor of medicine and epidemiology Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Biden has continually signaled his support for Fauci and other scientists, tweeting on the eve of Election Day, "We need a president who actually listens to experts like Dr. Fauci."
Fauci told CNN on Tuesday: "I have no intention of leaving. This is an important job."
"My goal is to serve the American public, no matter what the administration is," Fauci said.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.