Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday that he has no intention of leaving his current role.
“This is an important job. I’ve been doing it now for a very long time. I’ve been doing it under six presidents,” Fauci told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “It’s an important job and my goal is to serve the American public no matter what the administration is.”
The announcement comes after President Trump made remarks during a campaign rally in Opa-locka, Fla., that raised speculation he may fire Fauci after the 2020 election.
“Don’t tell anybody but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump replied to thousands of supporters chanting “Fire Fauci,” adding he appreciated their “advice.”
Fauci noted that the last time he spoke with Trump was during his treatment for the coronavirus at Walter Reed Medical Center. He also declined to comment on whether he has spoken with President-elect Joe Biden.
“I want to focus on what I’m doing now with regard to getting a vaccine and getting this country well in the sense of towards normality, which I think we are able to get this with this vaccine,” Fauci added. That’s really what I want to talk about.”
Fauci called news of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine being 90% effective “extraordinary” and “a big deal.”
He expects that the vaccine could potentially be available to the American people “very likely before the end of this year,” assuming all goes well with regulatory approval.
“What the company will do very likely, in fact I’m certain they’ll be doing it, is putting in soon, within the next week and a half or so for an emergency use authorization and ultimately for ultimate approval of the vaccine,” Fauci said. “If that goes along smoothly, we may have doses that we’re able to give to people by the end of November, the beginning of December, probably well into December.”
According to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University, the United States has surpassed 10 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 238,000 related deaths.