President-elect Joe Biden named 13 health experts to his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board on Monday, advancing his plans despite uncertainty over how much the Trump administration will cooperate amid its ongoing legal challenge to the election results. The coronavirus has spread at alarming rates in the U.S. in recent weeks.
The panel will be co-chaired by three people: former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. David Kessler of the University of California San Francisco, former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale.
"The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations," Biden said in a statement issued early Monday morning.
Biden made COVID-19 a central part of his campaign, calling for a stronger and more coordinated federal response to the pandemic even as President Trump downplayed the virus and criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert.
Nearly 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with coronavirus and infections in recent days have set new records, topping 100,000 per day. Nearly 238,000 Americans have diedfrom COVID-19 since January.
"Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts," Biden said in the statement. "The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations."
Biden's advisory board will work to create a plan to bring the pandemic under control — a process Biden says will begin immediately after his Jan. 20 inauguration.
The team includes several people who have served in senior public health positions in the federal government. The rosters includes Dr. Rick Bright, who was ousted as head of the government's leading-edge research agency, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development, or BARDA, earlier this year, after he criticized the federal government's pandemic response.
Also on the advisory board are Luciana Borio, a biodefense and disease specialist who has worked for the National Security Council, and Eric Goosby, who was President Obama's global AIDS coordinator.
On Friday night, Biden said, "I want everyone — everyone — to know on Day 1, we're going to put our plan to control this virus into action."
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