President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris unveiled their Transition COVID-19 advisory board on Monday, a team of scientists and health officials who will “help shape” their approach to handling the coronavirus pandemic as they prepare to take office in just 72 days.
“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 a 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 first move as president-elect comes as the United States nears 10 million cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. More than 230,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S.
The team will include Rick Bright, a whistleblower from the Trump administration who claimed that his early warnings about the pandemic, including over a shortage of critical supplies, went unheard and led to his removal.
The Board will be chaired by former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler, former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Yale University’s Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. The task force’s thirteen other members will include Dr. Luciana Borio, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and Dr. Zeke Emanuel, an ex-Obama health adviser who played a role in designing the Affordable Care Act.
The advisory board will “help guide the Biden-Harris Transition in planning for the President-elect’s robust federal response.”
Members of the team will work with state and local officials to “determine the public health and economic steps necessary to get the virus under control, to deliver immediate relief to working families, to address ongoing racial and ethnic disparities, and to reopen our schools and businesses safely and effectively.”
The board is expected to recommend a seven-point plan to fight COVID-19, including increased testing, securing personal protective equipment (PPE) supply chains with the Defense Production Act, and investing in vaccines.
The advisory board plans to brief Biden and Harris on Monday afternoon ahead of a planned speech by the president-elect in which he will speak about his plans to handle the pandemic and rebuild the economy.