Fauci says his meetings with Trump have 'dramatically decreased'

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciCDC to issue more guidance on school openings amid Trump criticism The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases The Hill's 12:30 Report- Presented by Facebook - Trump threatens schools' funding over reopening MORE, a member of the White House coronavirus task force who became one of the most visible faces of the federal response to the pandemic, said his meetings with President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE have “dramatically decreased” in recent weeks.

"We used to have task force meetings every single day, including Saturday and Sunday, and about 75 percent of the time after the task force meeting we’d meet with the president. So I was meeting with him four times a week back, a month or so ago,” Fauci said in an interview with STAT News published Monday.

“But as you probably noticed, that the task force meetings have not occurred as often lately. And certainly my meetings with the president have been dramatically decreased,” he added.

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When asked whether the president has frequently discussed work on a coronavirus vaccine with him, Fauci bluntly responded, “No.”

The White House initially signaled in early May that its task force on the coronavirus would be dissolved, but after public backlash Trump said it would remain in place "indefinitely" with a focus on safely reopening states. The task force has not held a press briefing in several weeks.

In the STAT interview, Fauci did not commit to a timeline for when a vaccine would be completed and widely available but said the number of different candidates in the mix was cause for optimism.

“What I like about the whole thing is that there are multiple candidates that we’re involved with,” said Fauci, who is head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“It just feels good to be directly or indirectly involved in four or five candidates, to do it in a way that I refer to as sort of harmonized, where you come to an agreement, which we did, that we’re going to do things where the trial protocols will be quite similar, where the laboratory tests that we’re going to ask for are going to be quite similar, so that you can extrapolate results from one study to another.”

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The significance of this, Fauci said, was that if one vaccine demonstrates efficacy in a trial while another is further behind but demonstrates similar immunity, “you could bridge data and facilitate the approval of the second and the third one based on the efficacy of the first one.”

Fauci has previously said a vaccine could, in a best-case scenario, be widely administered in late December or early January. Asked how this aligns with the president’s preferred timeline, Fauci said, “I think that the president and the administration would be really very happy if we had a vaccine that we could deploy by the end of this year.”

Updated at 10:33 a.m.