President Joe Biden on Thursday joked that White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci is the real president, before announcing his winter plan to fight COVID-19.
Biden began a speech at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland by thanking the agency, scientists, and researchers for their work during the pandemic and for their constant advice to the White House. He went on to make a joke about how much time he's spent with Fauci, and how much his advice has influenced White House policy.
"I've seen more of Dr. Fauci than I have my wife. We kid each other. But — hey look, who's president? Fauci," Biden said, to a small amount of laughter.
Moving on, the president announced a series of new actions the White House will take to combat COVID-19 this winter.
Among them are new international travel restrictions that will require travelers from abroad to test negative for the virus within one day of their departure to the U.S.
Biden also announced a plan to mandate that health insurance companies cover the full cost of at-home coronavirus rapid tests.
Additionally, the president said that the U.S. is currently supplying vaccine doses to "countries we're helping that aren't particularly friendly to us" in an effort to "vaccinate the world," which he said would benefit Americans.
"Let me be clear, not a single vaccine dose America ever sends to the rest of the world will ever come at the expense of any American," Biden said.
"I'll always make sure that our people are protected first. But vaccinating the rest of the world is not just a moral tool – a moral obligation we have – in my view. It's how we protect Americans."
The president also addressed the Omicron variant of coronavirus, which was discovered by South African scientists last week and now has confirmed cases in Colorado, Minnesota, and California.
"As I explained on Monday, this new variant is cause for concern but not panic," Biden said.
“We have the best tools, the best vaccines in the world, the best medicine and the best scientists in the world. We are going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion.”
He added: “We don’t yet believe that additional measures will be needed. But so that we’re prepared if needed, my team is already working with officials at Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans for other vaccines or boosters.”