Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), says the idea of firing or demoting Dr. Anthony Fauci is “unimaginable.”
“This is a remarkable scientist who has led NIH’s efforts in infectious disease with great distinction for more than 30 years, and who continues to be our lead in vaccines and therapeutics for Covid-19,” Collins told STAT News on Friday. “The idea of losing that leadership at this critical moment for our nation is unthinkable.”
Fauci currently serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of NIH. Collins is Fauci's boss.
When asked if he would dismiss Fauci if it was ordered by government officials such as the President or the secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, STAT reported that “Collins only laughed” and said, “I think you heard my answer.”
STAT also reported that Collins “touted Fauci’s decades long scientific acumen as a national asset,” and said this was especially critical at this time.
Some background: Trump on Monday sought to downplay tension with Fauci after a White House official shared a statement that appeared to undermine the nation's leading infectious disease expert.
"I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci, I've had for a long time," Trump said at the White House during a roundtable event honoring police officers. "I find him to be a very nice person. I don't always agree with him."
Under federal law, Trump doesn't have the power to directly fire Fauci, a career civil servant, and remove him from government. And while Trump could try ordering his political appointees to dismiss the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious, Fauci could appeal, making way for a time-consuming process.