Dr. Anthony Fauci: Joe Biden mask request may go beyond 100 days

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Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that Americans might need to wear masks beyond the 100-day commitment that presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden will outline at his inauguration but that it’s still a good idea to make the defined request.

Mr. Biden plans to mandate masks on federal property and interstate transportation and use the bully pulpit to demand face coverings among everyday people across the country. The 100-day period should stretch into the spring, when members of the general public will start to access forthcoming coronavirus vaccines.

It’s unclear how smoothly the vaccine process will go, however, or if enough people will roll up their sleeves to bring the virus under control in the first half of the year.

“He’s saying hey, ‘Folks, trust me, everybody, for 100 days.’ Now, it might be that after that, that we’re still going to need it. But he just wants everybody for a commitment for 100 days,” Dr. Fauci told NBC’s “Today Show.” “But I discussed that with him, and I told him I thought that was a good idea.”

Dr. Fauci is slated to continue his role as the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases — a post he’s held for decades under presidents of both parties — but will also serve as chief medical adviser to Mr. Biden, as the incoming Democrat tries to put forward a science-driven approach to COVID-19 and offer a contrast to the hot-and-cold relationship President Trump had with Dr. Fauci, who is often in the media.

Dr. Fauci said he accepted the offer from Mr. Biden immediately.

“Oh, absolutely. I said yes right on the spot. Yeah,” he told NBC.

Dr. Fauci warned Americans to avoid indoor crowds, especially around Christmas, as the coronavirus surges across the country, taxing hospitals and bringing daily U.S. death counts to pandemic highs.

The doctor also said he apologized on BBC for suggesting British regulators rushed their review of Pfizer’s messenger-RNA shots. He said the U.K. has good scientists but the Food and Drug Administration does things “differently,” as U.S. regulators pore over data ahead of likely approval this month.

“What our FDA does, is that they scrutinize every bit of the data themselves. They don’t just take the word of the company. They act like they’re really a reviewer for a journal. That’s just the way they do it. It’s a little bit different than with other regulatory agencies do. I’m not saying it’s better or worse but it’s just different,” Dr. Fauci said. “But we are, and I won’t back down on this, the FDA in the United States is the gold standard. … There’s no question about that, and I certainly wouldn’t apologize for that.”

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