Fauci to stay with NIH; criticizes UK for 'rushed' coronavirus vaccine approval

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, and a social media target of President Donald Trump, says he will stay in his role at the National Institutes of Health and continue to help President-elect Joe Biden's incoming administration with the coronavirus crisis.

Fauci told CBS News' Major Garrett on the podcast "The Takeout," which airs on WCBS Newsradio 880 on Friday nights at 9 p.m., that he's preparing to have his first meeting with Biden on Thursday, virtually, to discuss the transition and COVID-19 vaccines, among other things.

He told CBS News he wishes the transition process had been allowed to start sooner.

He also voiced some criticism of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine's approval in the U.K., saying he wishes more time was spent vetting the vaccine. He said the approval amounted to U.K. health officials essentially taking Pfizer's word for the vaccine's safety and efficacy.

Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows summoned FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to the White House earlier this week to explain why the approval process was taking longer in the United States than in the U.K. Fauci said he believes Hahn was successful in convincing Meadows that the agency was acting appropriately.

After the FDA approves a vaccine for use in the U.S., Fauci said, he would take the shot as soon as possible -- even doing it on camera if it would help boost public confidence in its safety.

He also warned of a new surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S., calling it "a surge superimposed upon a surge." Agreeing with Biden, he said there is potential for another 250,000 deaths by the end of January.

"It is possible," he said.

Asked about confrontations with the president, and instances in which Fauci directly contradicted him in White House coronavirus briefings, Fauci said he never felt like he was prevented from speaking his mind. He did acknowledge that "there have been bumps along the road," however. Fauci said the impact of those briefings was "mixed." It was good to get information out there, but the output of medical recommendations based on scientific research unfortunately became politicized.

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