WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden unveiled plans for a new panel of pandemic-response advisers during his victory address on Saturday in Wilmington, Del., making clear that his incoming administration’s efforts to address the ongoing Covid-19 crisis are already well underway.
It was a high-profile rollout for one of Biden’s signature campaign promises, which the president-elect’s top coronavirus advisers had alluded to in recent weeks in interviews with STAT and other outlets.
“On Monday, I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to help take the Biden-Harris Covid plan and convert it into an action blueprint that will start on January 20, 2021,” Biden said. “That plan will be built on bedrock science. … I’ll spare no effort, none, or any commitment, to turn around this pandemic.”
The task force is effectively an extension of the group of advisers who have briefed Biden and Harris on Covid-19 for months. The group includes David Kessler, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner; Vivek Murthy, the former surgeon general; and the Yale physician-researcher Marcella Nunez-Smith.
Biden has not yet named other task force members, but his campaign has received counsel from an array of well-known health policy figures in recent months, including Zeke Emanuel, the former Obama administration health adviser, and Nicole Lurie, the Obama administration’s assistant health secretary for preparedness and response.
Joshua Sharfstein, the former deputy FDA commissioner, is also seen as a contender to play a leading role in Biden’s Covid-19 response, and Ron Klain, the former Obama administration “Ebola czar,” is expected to play a major role in the Biden administration.
In a recent interview, Emanuel told STAT that the task force would likely feature “sub-task forces in each area” of pandemic response, including testing, contact tracing, and vaccines.
Both Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, the daughter of a biomedical scientist, spoke of the election as a successful referendum on scientific truth. Before Harris’ introductory remarks, TV networks showed supporters displaying a sign that declared: “The people have chosen science.”
“You delivered a clear message,” Harris said. “You chose hope and unity, decency, science, and yes, truth.”