Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said he has had no contact with President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus transition team and sees no reason to quit to join that effort when there is so much to do now to fight the surging pandemic.
For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.
“I stay in my lane. I’m not a politician. I do public health things,” he said in an interview on Thursday ahead of next week’s Reuters Total Health conference.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app
Since January, Fauci has served on President Donald Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force, a position that has frequently put him at odds with the president, who has sought to downplay the pandemic and focused instead on opening the economy.
“There’s absolutely no reason and no sense at all for me to stop doing something in the middle of a pandemic that is playing a major role in helping us get out of the pandemic,” Fauci said.
Critical care body advises against remdesivir for severely ill coronavirus patients
His advice for the president-elect, he said, is “exactly the same” as what he is recommending now - social distancing, avoiding crowds, wearing masks, washing hands. “Public health principles don’t change from one month to another or from one administration to another.”
Fauci has served six administrations and came to prominence fighting the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan.
His “day job” is developing vaccines and therapeutics as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, work that is starting to bear fruit.
On Monday, Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE announced that their experimental coronavirus vaccine was more than 90 percent effective -- significantly higher than most experts had anticipated.
Moderna Inc, a company developing a similar vaccine with support from the White House’s Operation Warp Speed program, is expected to report results from their late-stage vaccine trial in the next week or so.
Both vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, an entirely new rapid vaccine platform that uses synthetic genes to trigger an immune response. Older methods typically use some form of inactivated or killed virus particles.
“It was a home run for the Pfizer product, more than 90 percent -- close to 95 percent -- effective. I have every reason to believe that the Moderna product is going to be similar,” Fauci said.
“It’s an almost identical platform to the Pfizer vaccine, so I would not be surprised at all if it was highly effective,” Fauci added.
The next big question about mRNA technology is safety. Fauci took as a good sign the fact that neither the Pfizer trial, which has enrolled more than 43,000 people so far, nor the Moderna trial, which involves 30,000, had to pause to investigate safety issues.
“That’s really good news,” he said. People in both trials will be followed for two years to make sure there are no long-term side effects. Barring that, “I think that the mRNA platform is here to stay,” he predicted.
In spite of the high bar set by the Pfizer vaccine so far, Fauci said he believes there is still “plenty of room for multiple vaccines, even though there may be a modest degree of difference in total efficacy.”
Critical care body advises against remdesivir for severely ill coronavirus patientsAntiviral remdesivir should not be used as a routine treatment for COVID-19 patients in critical care wards, the head of one of the world’s top bodies ... Coronavirus
Coronavirus: Vaccine alliance GAVI to hold talks with Biden teamThe head of the GAVI vaccine alliance expects to hold talks with the incoming team of US President-elect Joe Biden about collaborating with the COVAX ... Coronavirus
Coronavirus: Elon Musk tests positive and negative for COVID-19 on same dayTesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said on Thursday he took four coronavirus tests on the same day, with two showing positive results, while ... Coronavirus
Coronavirus: US Feds announce COVID-19 vaccine agreement with drug storesFederal health officials have reached an agreement with pharmacies across the US to distribute free coronavirus vaccines after they are approved and ... Coronavirus
Coronavirus: 50 mln vaccines could be ready in 2020, immunity up to one yearBioNTECH plans to provide 50 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed with Pfizer by the end of the year, Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin ... Coronavirus
Coronavirus: US medical association says more details needed on Lilly antibody drugThe Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) on Thursday said it is evaluating the data on which US regulators approved emergency use of Eli ... Coronavirus
Coronavirus: Gates Foundation pledges $70 mln for COVID-19 vaccines, equal accessThe Gates Foundation added another $70 million of funding on Thursday to global efforts to develop and distribute vaccines and treatments against the ... Coronavirus