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The government's top infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci said Friday that he "absolutely" will accept the offer from President-elect Joe Biden to serve as his chief medical adviser, telling NBC's "Today" that he said yes "right on the spot."

Why it matters: President Trump had a contentious relationship with Fauci, who has been forced during the pandemic to correct many of the president's false claims about the coronavirus. Biden, meanwhile, has emphasized the importance of "listening to the scientists" throughout his campaign and transition.

Between the lines: Biden's decision to praise and hire Fauci not only continues the contrast he is trying to create with President Trump, who has talked about firing the doctor, but also shows the calibrated media exposure the president-elect and his team are using to control their message and instill public calm.

The big picture: Biden said in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday night that on Inauguration Day he will ask Americans to wear a mask for 100 days, "not forever," as a patriotic duty to help curb the spread of the virus until a vaccine is widely available.

  • Fauci said that he spoke to Biden about that suggestion and told him it was a good idea, but clarified that mask-wearing may still be needed after the 100 days.
  • On the vaccine front, Fauci told NBC: "As we get into January and February and March, more and more people will be able to get vaccinated. So now is the time to hang in there and not give up."

Go deeper: More highlights from Biden's interview with Tapper

Go deeper

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
Jan 29, 2021 - World

EU grants conditional approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The European Commission on Friday granted conditional approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years and older.

Why it matters: This is the third vaccine to receive approval from the commission, coming hours after the Emergency Medicines Agency recommended its authorization.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.