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WASHINGTON — President-elect Biden’s transition team unveiled the members of his Covid-19 task force on Monday, a who’s-who of former government health officials, academics, and major figures in medicine.

The list includes Rick Bright, the former head of the vaccine-development agency BARDA ousted by the Trump administration in April; Atul Gawande, the surgeon, writer, and recently departed CEO of Haven, the joint JP Morgan Chase-Berkshire Hathaway-Amazon health care venture; and Luciana Borio, a former Food and Drug Administration official and biodefense specialist. 


Biden has cast the escalating Covid-19 crisis as a priority for his incoming administration. The task force, he said, would quickly consult with state and local health officials on how to best prevent coronavirus spread, reopen schools and businesses, and address the racial disparities that have left communities of color harder hit than others by the pandemic. 

“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 Monday. “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.”

As expected, the board’s three co-chairs are Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale physician and researcher; Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general; and David Kessler, a former FDA commissioner. 


Other appointees include well-known public health officials such as Julie Morita, a former Chicago health commissioner, and Eric Goosby, the founding director of the federal government’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS program.

The task force also includes a variety of other well-known doctors and academics, among them Zeke Emanuel, a former Obama administration health care adviser, and Celine Gounder, a physician and medical journalist with years of experience combating HIV and tuberculosis outbreaks. 

Separately, the Biden transition announced that it had appointed two health advisers who will guide the incoming administration’s Covid-19 preparations but will not serve on the task force. One of those advisers, Beth Cameron, is the former director of a White House biodefense council that Trump has been criticized for closing in 2017. The other, Rebecca Katz, is a well-known Georgetown global health security professor. 

Despite the task force’s breadth, it does not include several figures still seen as likely to play major roles in the Biden administration’s Covid-19 effort, including Joshua Sharfstein, the former deputy FDA commissioner, and Nicole Lurie, the Obama administration’s assistant health secretary for preparedness and response.

Below is the full list of task force members:

David Kessler, co-chair, former FDA commissioner

Marcella Nunez-Smith, co-chair, Yale associate dean for health equity research 

Vivek Murthy, co-chair, former surgeon general 

Luciana Borio, former assistant FDA commissioner 

Rick Bright, former BARDA director 

Zeke Emanuel, former Obama administration health policy adviser

Atul Gawande, Brigham and Women’s hospital professor of surgery 

Celine Gounder, NYU Grossman School of Medicine assistant professor

Dr. Julie Morita, former Chicago public health commissioner 

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota

Loyce Pace, executive director of the Global Health Council

Dr. Robert Rodriguez, UCSF emergency medicine professor 

Eric Goosby, former Ryan White Care Act director

  • Oh yay-Osterholm who would like us all locked up -for our own safety of course, until no germ exists ever again. Osterholm-who completely dissed Dr Gandhi’s research and theory with masks lowering inoculum – thereby lowering #of serious covid cases. Oh what’s that DOCTOR Osterholm? Did the CDC JUST state almost the same thing?? JFC can’t we get a panel of forward, comprehensive thinkers including business/economy experts so we can get a WHOLE comprehensive approach and relics like Osterholm who absolutely cannot stand to be challenged in any way!

    prepare to be arrested for violations of lockdown or non mask wearing (even if found to be in your OWN HOME like Osterholm advocates) once the nationwide blunt force mandates drop!

    • The breadth of this comment encompassing so much while also, ironically, stating nothing of substance. If this a Troll post I appreciate the nuisance to throw around vague interpretations of medical jargon in an attempt to sensationalize conjecture and covey comprehension as an edifices of ignorance or malignant accusations.

  • Joe Biden appointed a man tha feels the elderly and non productive should be denied vaccines and medicines. Joe Biden asPresident we will end up with more Socialized Medicine…Where will we go to get Medical help, when we end up with medicine like the Canada and Britain where we bureaccreats run our healthcare. We are in for a world of Hurt with Biden and Harris in charge.

    • This is false. Here is a direct quote from Dr. Emanuel in the article you are referring to:

      “Again, let me be clear: I am not saying that those who want to live as long as possible are unethical or wrong. I am certainly not scorning or dismissing people who want to live on despite their physical and mental limitations. I’m not even trying to convince anyone I’m right. Indeed, I often advise people in this age group on how to get the best medical care available in the United States for their ailments. That is their choice, and I want to support them.”


  • Why is Biden hiring Zeke Emanuel? Zeke Emanuel says he would not give Vaccine to the elderly and that at 75 yrs old health care should be limited. Haven’t Democrats killed enough elderly with NY, NJ, MA, CT, MI, PA sending Covid Patients to Nursing Homes resulting in 46% of the Covid deaths. All Democrat run states…Joe Biden is hiring to a Pandemic task force another person who would kill or refuse to give vaccines to the elderly,

  • The blaring omission is that there are no NURSES!!
    Shameful. For example Rear Admiral Aisha K. Mix, RN, DNP,MPH, Chief Nurse officer of the US Public Health Service
    Rep. Lauren Underwood, RN, MSN,MPH
    Jason Farley, RN, PhD, NP, MPH, Infectious disease expert.

  • I agree that defeating Corona virus is a national urgency but I find it an amazing oversite that Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris did not appoint at least 1 registered nurse to this task force. Survey after survey has shown that Americans trust nurses more than any over group or professionals. Nurses are the largest number of health care professionals in the US and our focus since the days of Florence Nightingale has always been on restoring health. I do hope that our President Elect and Vice President elect will correct this and appoint at least 1 if not more of our nation’s highly qualified nurses to serve our nation on this task force. Our country would be fortunate if Beverly Malone RN, someone who advised President Clinton on health matters and has a wide perspective on health issues (including global as she worked for some time in the UK) would consent to be on this task force.
    Elizabeth Ayello, PhD, RN

  • Oh, great…Dr Emanuel who thinks anyone not “productive “ should go away..I guess he won’t vote for the folks in nursing homes to get the vaccine…I’m feeling the love and unity already!

  • Why isn’t Scott Gottlieb on this list? See no reason for Ezekiel Emanuel to be listed; a veritable Dr Kivorkian in sheep’s clothing. Agree with the need for the input of nursing. They are on the ultimate “front line”, the bedside.

    • Joe Biden doesn’t like Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Biden has has publically that stated Dr Scott Gottlieb doesn’t believe in the Science and doesn’t know what he is doing.
      Not just Nurses, Reperatory Therapist also need to be on this team. We don’t need to reenter the WHO..

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