Crisis No. 1 for President-elect Joe Biden: the coronavirus.
On his first working day of the transition, Biden announced a COVID-19 Advisory Board which will be led by former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Yale associate professor of medicine and epidemiology Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. Other members include former public health officials, professors, infectious disease experts and vaccine expert Rick Bright, who blew the whistle on the Trump administration's promotion of hydroxychloroquine and was subsequently fired.
The Biden campaign made the coronavirus its primary focus, both Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris receiving regular briefings, setting out priorities for dealing with the virus should they win the election. Now, in its transition, it will do the same.
Biden says he'll focus on "making rapid testing widely available, building a core of contact tracers who will track and curb this disease, while getting the vaccine to at risk populations, developing clear and detailed guidance providing necessary resources for businesses, schools, child care centers to reopen during the pandemic."
Biden says he wants to make sure a vaccine will be distributed equitably and that treatments and therapeutics are widely available.
Yale professor Dr. Howard Forman not only taught or worked with all three co-chairs of the board, he’s also participating in Pfizer’s vaccine trial. He says doctors need to rebuild public trust and reinforce masks, social distancing and basic hygiene. Forman says he's optimistic administration officials will help with the transition in this arena, even if the president himself won't engage.
President-elect Biden says he'll continue to bring new members onto the advisory board throughout the transition. No word yet on Dr. Anthony Fauci, but on the campaign trail, Biden vowed to hire the renowned infectious disease expert.