By MOLLY NAGLE, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris rolled out their transition COVID-19 advisory board Monday morning, naming the people in charge of making the rubber of the duo’s COVID policy hit the road 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 the release announcing the board.
“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,” he continued.
In his first address to the nation as president-elect Saturday night, Biden announced one of his first actions would be putting the panel in place — a signal of Biden’s primary focus on getting the coronavirus pandemic in check when he takes office in January.
As previously reported, the team will be led by three co-chairs: former Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, and former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Dr. David Kessler, along with Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a professor of medicine at Yale University.
In total, 13 co-chairs and members comprise the board, including former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Dr. Rick Bright, who made headlines earlier this year when he resigned from his role at the National Institute of Health and filed a whistleblower complaint over “an abuse of authority or gross mismanagement” at the Department of Health and Human Services on the COVID-19 response.
Several officials from previous administrations also comprise the board, including Dr. Michael Osterholm, the former Science Envoy for Health Security on behalf of the State Department, former senior advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration Dr. Atul Gawande, and former special advisor for health policy to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget during the Obama Administration Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel.
Biden and Harris will receive a briefing from the board Monday morning, according to their transition team — the first public event for the duo since being projected as the winners of the 2020 election.
Some of the members of the COVID-19 transition board previously served on Biden’s public health advisory committee that was assembled in March during the Democratic Primary as COVID-19 gripped the country.
Murthy, Kessler and Emanuel were all part of the group that briefed Biden throughout the campaign on the state of the pandemic.
Throughout the General Election, Biden’s message focused intensely on the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans to get the virus under control, unveiling his most recent version of his policy in the final weeks of the campaign.
Biden’s policy focuses on expanding access testing and contact tracing across the country and providing access to PPE, along with national guidelines of how the country should move forward as the nation seeks to slow the spread of COVID.
Biden would also seek to implement a mask mandate across the country by working with leaders at the state and local level, as well as creating a plan to develop and equitably distribute a vaccine for COVID-19 once it is identified and approved.
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