In their first official move as president-elect, Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Monday announced that the creation of the COVID-19 Transformation Advisory Board will “help shape “Upcoming government approach to coronavirus pandemic management.
The Council will be co-chaired by Dr. David Kessler, who served in the George HW Bush and Clinton administrations as FDA commissioners; Dr. Vivek Murthy, general surgeon under the Obama administration; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate professor of internal medicine, public health and management at Yale University. Also on the board: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an architect of the Affordable Care Act and former special advisor to health policy in the Obama administration.
The move comes as the United States hits nearly 10 million coronavirus infections totaling more than 237,000 related deaths amid what is described as the third wave of COVID-19, according to the latest University update. Johns Hopkins.
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Biden on Monday also announced that Dr. Beth Cameron, who helped create a “pandemic book” under the Obama administration, and Dr. Rebecca Katz, who served on the campaign’s advisory committee Biden on coronavirus, will act as an advisor to the COVID -19 Transformation.
“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and experts,” Biden said in a statement. “Advisory Board will help shape my approach to managing reported incidence of infections; ensure vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed effectively, fairly and free of charge; and protect endangered populations. “
Council members have experience “participating in and leading our country’s response to public health crises nationwide and worldwide,” according to the Biden Transition Group.
Biden sees ending the coronavirus as a central message in his campaign and voters favor the former vice president more than President Trump on the question of who is better able to cope with the pandemic, according to Fox News voter analysis.
Other members include Dr. Luciana Borio, who previously held several senior leadership positions at the FDA; Dr. Rick Bright, who served as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency and as Assistant Secretary for Prep and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services under the Trump administration; Dr. Atul Gawande; Dr. Celine Gounder; Dr. Julie Morita; Dr. Michael Osterholm, who was the Special Envoy for Health Security on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and an epidemiologist of the State of Minnesota; Dr. Loyce Pace, who previously held leadership positions at the LIVESTRONG Foundation and the American Cancer Society; Dr. Robert Rodriguez; and Dr. Eric Goosby.
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The Advisory Board will “help guide the Biden-Harris Transition in planning for the President-elect’s strong federal response.”
Council scientists and public health experts will consult with state and local officials to “identify the economic and public health steps needed to control the virus, and provide immediate relief. immediately for working families, addressing ongoing racial and ethnic disparities, to safely and effectively reopen our schools and businesses. “
The board is expected to come up with a 7-point plan to beat COVID-19, including intensifying testing, securing the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supply chain with the Defense Manufacturing Act and investing in vaccines.
President Trump, earlier this year, invoked the Defense Manufacturing Act to mobilize the private sector to provide medical equipment, mostly masks, that healthcare professionals need to treat. for patients infected with COVID-19. In April, the president also invoked the Defense Manufacturing Act, which considers meat processing plants part of the country’s critical infrastructure out of fear that the food supply chain will be disrupted due to pandemic.
As for vaccines, one or more COVID-19 vaccines could be ready by the end of 2020, according to Trump administration officials, who have said they are “cautiously optimistic” that they will be available. available, albeit “limited in quantity”.
Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar went even further, estimating that there would be enough vaccine for all the elderly, health care workers and first responders. at the end of January and for all the Americans who want them by the end of March or early April.
“There is hope for a safe and effective route to use the vaccine over a few weeks or months,” Azar said.
The Trump administration is currently producing six potential vaccines through a program called Operation Warp Speed. The plan is to start distributing vaccines as soon as they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
According to the deputy director for infectious diseases at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Jay Butler, when they become available, vaccines will be distributed to those most at risk for the virus and other Essential health care worker. He said all jurisdictions have submitted their distribution plans to the CDC and that the plan is currently under review.
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Meanwhile, Biden is expected to promote the restoration of the White House National Security Council Board of Directors on Health Security and Biodefense under Obama, and rejoin with the World Health Organization.
Biden’s move to rejoin the World Health Organization comes after Trump filed his withdrawal notice and won’t go into effect until July 2021.
In April, Trump announced that the United States would freeze funding to WHO, and threatened to freeze it permanently if it did not enact “major substantive reforms”. The US used to be the top contributor to this agency with about $ 450 million per year. China, meanwhile, pays about $ 50 million a year – though Beijing recently announced a $ 2 billion investment.
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Trump has repeatedly raised concerns about WHO officials praising China’s “transparency”, ignoring the virus warnings from Taiwan, and China’s repeated claims that COVID-19 is non-contagious. spread from person to person. Trump also pointed out objections from WHO officials to his decision to place a travel ban on China in the early days of the crisis.
Biden is also expected to restart the US Agency for International Development’s pathogen tracking program “PREDICT” and will call on all governors to enact masking regulations.
Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign focuses heavily on the new coronavirus, as the United States fights the pandemic. The brief hospitalization of President Trump following the signing of COVID-19, as well as the rise of the corona virus in the fall in key states across the country, has kept the campaign’s focus on a the issue does not support the presidential re-election opportunity.
Fox News’s Jacqui Heinrich and Lucas Manfredi contributed to this report.