Former Vice President Joe Biden promised to keep Dr. Anthony Fauci on as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) if he wins the presidential election in November.
Biden, who has taken the lead from President Donald Trump in recent national polls, announced in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday that one of his first acts would be to retain Fauci to ensure continuity in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
“I will be a president who respects scientists, and who won’t censor their ability to speak directly to the American people,” the former vice president said. “I’ll immediately reach out to Dr. Anthony Fauci to ask him to continue his incredible service to our country.”
The former vice president’s pledge comes as Fauci, who has been at the helm of NIAID since 1984, has taken criticism in recent weeks. Fauci, in particular, has come under fire for warning that if infection rates increase in the fall, further lockdown measures may be required. Some Republicans, however, argue that Fauci’s predictions about the virus’ death toll have been inaccurate.
Biden’s speech on Tuesday focused on President Donald Trump’s response to the COVID19 pandemic, with the presumptive Democrat nominee arguing the White House has failed “to mobilize an effective response.”