U.S. Health and Human Services Dept. Secretary Alex Azar confirmed that HHS is working with president-elect Joe Biden on a presidential transition.
Speaking during a press briefing, Azar said HHS is in contact with the transition team after the General Services Administration formally recognized Biden as the president-elect, having previously sidestepped questions regarding the potential transition as President Donald Trump continues a legal effort to turn the election outcome in his favor.
“Rear Admiral [Erica] Schwartz, who has been leading our transition efforts, was last night in communication with the Biden transition team,” Azar said during the briefing. “We are immediately getting them all of the preprepared transition briefing materials. We will ensure coordinated briefings with them to ensure they’re getting whatever information that they feel they need that’s consistent with statute and past practice.”
Azar had previously responded to questions of a transition and its impact on COVID-19 vaccine distribution by promising cooperation from HHS “in the event of a transition,” but the GSA’s recognition of Biden’s victory led the agency to slightly change its tune
Recently, vaccine candidates have shown promise, as this week, AstraZeneca announced that its candidate can be up to 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, joining candidates from Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as one from Moderna, both of which recently reported data as they move toward seeking regulatory approval.
In addition to Azar and HHS contacting the transition team, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Good Morning America that he’s been in contact with president-elect Biden’s Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, saying that that the transition is “in process.”
Biden confirmed contact between his team and Fauci, according to a report from The Hill, saying that the leading expert on infectious diseases has “been very, very helpful.” Another report from the same outlet cited Fauci, a member of the current administration’s coronavirus task force, as saying he would “absolutely” serve on Biden’s COVID-19 task force if asked.