Biden unveils COVID-19 advisory board, says ‘bold action’ needed to fight virus
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced a 13-member COVID-19 advisory board and a seven-point plan to fight the virus.
“There is a need for bold action to fight this pandemic,” Biden said during a Monday press conference. “We are still facing a very dark winter.”
There have been more than 10.3 million reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States and more than 240,000 deaths, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University. Texas has reported 1 million cases alone.
Biden said the COVID-19 advisory board “will advise on detailed plans, built on a bedrock of science, and to keep compassion, empathy and care for every American at its core.”
The board is led by co-chairs David A. Kessler, MD, a former FDA commissioner and professor of pediatrics, epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS, associate professor of internal medicine, public health and management and dean for health equity research at Yale School of Medicine.
The other members are:
- Luciana Borio, MD, vice president of technical staff at In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit venture capital firm, and a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.
- Rick Bright, PhD, an immunologist and virologist who led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) until April, when he was reassigned by the Trump administration for what he said was his resistance to efforts to widen the availability of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.
- Ezekiel J. Emmanuel, MD, PhD, oncologist and vice provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, professor of surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and a former senior advisor at HHS.
- Eric Goosby, MD, professor of medicine at UCSF, who was the founding director of the Ryan White CARE Act, an interim director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and United Nations special envoy for tuberculosis.
- Celine Gounder, MD, ScM, FIDSA, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.
- Julie Morita, MD, executive vice president of the Robert Wood John Foundation and former Chicago city health commissioner.
- Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and former state epidemiologist for Minnesota.
- Loyce Pace, MPH, executive director and president of the Global Health Council.
- Robert Rodriguez, MD, professor of emergency medicine at UCSF.
Cornelius (Neil) J. Clancy, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of the extensively drug-resistant pathogen lab and mycology program at the University of Pittsburgh, commended the makeup of the board, calling it “a diverse and clearly well-informed group, with scientific, medical, public health, social sciences and governmental expertise.”
“I'm confident in the transition team in general, which seems to be reaching out to a mix of experienced hands from past administrations and experts and striving for diversity and inclusion,” Clancy said.
Biden said the transition team will seek to add other members to the COVID-19 advisory board throughout the transition.
The Biden-Harris transition team’s COVID-19 plan consists of seven goals:
- Ensure all Americans have access to regular, reliable and free testing.
- Fix personal protective equipment problems for good.
- Provide clear, consistent, evidence-based guidance for how communities should navigate the pandemic — and the resources for schools, small businesses and families to make it through.
- Plan for the effective, equitable distribution of treatments and vaccines — because development is not enough if they are not effectively distributed.
- Protect older Americans and others at high risk.
- Rebuild and expand defenses to predict, prevent and mitigate pandemic threats, including those coming from China.
- Implement mask mandates nationwide by working with governors and mayors and by asking the American people to do what they do best: step up in a time of crisis.
Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said the plan includes a “robust list of critical actions and is helmed by some of the best people in the field.”
“The Biden-Harris plan substantially increases the ability to move forward with pandemic control in a manner that has been lacking since the start of the pandemic, including increased testing and working with governors and county level officials to implement universal face covering use,” Adalja told Healio. “Additionally, the focus on protecting older and at-risk individuals is crucial as nursing homes have contributed substantially to the burden on hospitals.”
Biden noted that CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, said wearing a mask is the most potent weapon against COVID-19.
“A mask is not a political statement, but it is a good way to start pulling the country together,” Biden said.
Biden-Harris Transition. COVID-19 The Biden-Harris plan to beat COVID-19. Accessed Nov. 11, 2020.