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Top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci on Friday said he said “yes right on the spot” to President-elect Joe Biden’s offer to serve as his chief medical adviser.

“Absolutely, I said yes right on the spot,” Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie.

He will continue serving as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a role he has held through six presidential administrations, while also leading the country’s efforts against the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden on Thursday told CNN’s Jake Tapper about the offer during his first joint interview with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris since the election.

“I asked him to stay on the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the COVID team,” Biden said of Fauci.

Guthrie also asked Fauci about Biden’s plan to ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office.

“Is that enough or do you feel like that might put an artificial time limit on how long people need to be wearing masks?” Guthrie asked.

“No, he didn’t mean it that way,” Fauci responded. “What he wants, he just wants to get — and it’s a good idea — uniform.”

Fauci added that after the first 100 days, masks might still be needed to stem the spread of the virus but Biden wants commitment from the American people for a structured time frame.

“I discussed that with him and I told him I thought that was a good idea,” Fauci concluded.

While Biden wants everyone to wear masks, he will not have the constitutional authority to directly order a nationwide mask mandate.

Fauci is one of the most prominent members of President Trump’s coronavirus task force and polls show he is among the most trusted public officials when it comes to the coronavirus.

He has publicly contradicted Trump’s remarks about the pandemic and criticized his disregard for public health guidelines by holding large campaign rallies — a stance that has made him a frequent target of criticism from the president’s allies and supporters.

Trump suggested at his final campaign rally last month that he may attempt to fire Fauci following the election.

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Coronavirus Vaccine

Biden will honor 500K US COVID-19 deaths with candle lighting ceremony

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President Biden plans to mark 500,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the US with a candle lighting ceremony Monday, according to the White House.

The president will deliver a heartfelt speech at sundown at the White House’s Cross Hall to commemorate the grim death toll milestone, Biden’s press schedule said Sunday.

“The president will deliver remarks on the lives lost to COVID-19 in the Cross Hall,” the schedule states.

“[He will then] hold a moment of silence and candle lighting ceremony at sundown in the South Portico.”

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Biden will honor the lives lost to the illness — which on Sunday hovered just under 500,000, according to state health officials — alongside Vice President Kamala Harris and First Lady Jill Biden.

Biden and Harris also held a somber ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial a day before taking office last month to honor the 400,000 lives lost to the coronavirus.

“To heal, we must remember,” Biden said at the time.

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Coronavirus Vaccine

Dr. Fauci: Trump Let ‘Terrible Things’ Happen After Our COVID-19 Disagreements

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Dr. Anthony Fauci continues to open up about his experiences working under the Trump administration, revealing the moment he began to lose influence with former President Donald Trump.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Telegraph, the infectious disease specialist recalled a marked shift in his professional relationship with Trump in April or May of last year, once the president began to publicly side with anti-lockdown protesters and back states’ efforts to lift stay-at-home orders.

“My influence with [Trump] diminished when he decided to essentially act like there was no outbreak and focus on re-election and opening the economy,” Fauci, who is now serving as chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, recalled Friday. “That’s when he said, “It’s going to go away, it’s magical, don’t worry about it.”’

Immediately thereafter, he added, “my direct influence on him was negligible. It became more conflictual than productive.”

Over the course of the past year, Fauci has enjoyed broad support from both Democrats and Republicans, and continues to be seen as a touchstone of scientific wisdom amid the ongoing pandemic.

But as the 2020 election drew to a close, Trump publicly lashed out at him and other medical experts even as the COVID-19 death toll continued to spike.

In an October phone call with campaign staffers, the former president deemed Fauci “a disaster.” Weeks later, he told supporters at a Florida rally he was considering firing Fauci “a little bit after” the election.

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In his interview with The Telegraph, Fauci didn’t touch on specific incidents but said having to correct the president’s numerous coronavirus falsehoods, often on live television, led to a gradual falling-out.

“When it became clear that in order to maintain my integrity and to get the right message [across] I had to publicly disagree with him, he did things — or allowed things to happen — that were terrible,” he said.

On the flip side, he offered faint praise for former Vice President Mike Pence, who “really tried his very best to address the outbreak.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Fauci ― who has worked alongside six presidents ― drew parallels between Trump’s handling of the coronavirus to the ways former President Ronald Reagan neglected to deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Still, he said, they were “significant differences.”

Reagan “never did anything to obstruct what I was trying to do,” he recalled, while Trump “was putting as much stock in anecdotal things that turned out not to be true as he was in what scientists like myself were saying.”

“That caused unnecessary and uncomfortable conflict where I had to essentially correct what he was saying,” he added, “and put me at great odds with his people.”
(The Huffington Post)

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Biden administration

US President Biden pledges contribution of $4 billion to COVAX; announces ‘America is back’

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President of the United States Joe Biden, on Friday, announced that “America is back” addressing a global audience while virtually addressing the Munich Security Conference.

Stating that the transatlantic alliance was back, the US President remarked that the United States was determined to re-engage with Europe to earn back their position of trusted leadership.

In response to Biden’s remark, European Council President Charles Michel said, “Welcome back, America.”

Biden also was part of a virtual meeting of the Group of Seven industrialised nations (G7) earlier on Friday.

The meeting was attended by top leaders of the seven nations – United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan, Canada, Italy, and Germany.

The virtual meeting was chaired by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It was the first G7 meeting for US President Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi as head of their countries.

“I participated in the first meeting of the G7 leaders, where I spoke about the dire need to coordinate multilateral action to address Covid-19, the global economic crisis, and the accelerating climate crisis, and so much else. Achieving these goals depend on a core strategic proposition and that is the United States must renew America’s enduring advantages so that we can meet today’s challenges from a position of strength – that is building back better our economic foundations, reclaiming our place in international institutions, lifting up our values at home, and speaking up to defend them around the world,” noted US President Biden in his address.

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At the G7 meeting, Biden pledged US dollars ($) 4 billion in US aid to the COVAX fund which will help buy coronarivus vaccines for global distribution. From this amount, an initial $2 billion will be released in 2021 while the additional $2 billion will be released over the next two years.

According to a statement issued by the G7 leaders, they have pledged an overall commitment of $7.5 billion to the fund, which is a United Nations coronavirus vaccination programme for poorer countries.

“We, the leaders of the Group of Seven, met today and resolved to work together to beat COVID-19 and build back better. Drawing on our strengths and values as democratic, open economies and societies, we will work together and with others to make 2021 a turning point for multilateralism and to shape a recovery that promotes the health and prosperity of our people and planet,” said the leaders jointly, adding, “with increased financial commitments of over $4 billion USD to ACT-A and COVAX, collective G7 support totals $7.5 billion.”

The European Union has doubled its own COVAX funding to one billion euros.
(The Himalayan Times)

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