President-elect Joe Biden has recently released his plans for handling the coronavirus pandemic. One focus is to encourage state and local leaders to put in place mask mandates, if needed, and continuing to practice social distancing. Biden’s goal is to have the messaging from all levels of government and both parties be the same. Rather than relying on federal mandates, he hopes to build consensus amongst the majority of people that following these measures will help save lives and put the country in a better position to avoid another shutdown.
The plan also calls for creating a panel on the model of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s War Production Board. The panel’s focus would be to increase testing, develop detailed plans to distribute vaccines after they’re shown to be safe and effective, and provide schools and businesses with billions of dollars to reopen safely. Since all of this will require money from Congress, Biden will need to find a way to work with those on the opposite side of the aisle to achieve results.
Today, Biden took a step toward his objectives when he announced his coronavirus task force members. There will be three co-chairs: Vivek H. Murthy, surgeon general during the Obama administration; David Kessler, Food and Drug Administration commissioner under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine. In total, there are 13 members, including Rick Bright, Luciana Borio, Ezekiel Emanuel, Atul Gawande, Michael T. Osterholm, Eric Goosby, Celine R. Gounder, Julie Morita, Loyce Pace, and Robert Rodriguez. According to a press release, the task force will work with state and local officials to create public health and economic policies to address the virus and racial and ethnic disparities while also working to reopen schools and businesses.
While Biden is gearing up to take over the pandemic battle, Pfizer is making significant progress in developing a vaccine. Per an analysis by an independent data monitoring committee, the vaccine is over 90% effective when compared to a placebo shot. In the 44,000-person trial, there have only been 94 cases of COVID-19, with less than nine being among people who received two shots of the vaccine. This indicates a high rate of efficacy. The study defined a case as someone with a positive test result and at least one symptom. Also, the committee didn’t note any serious safety concerns. With this news, the vaccine could receive federal authorization on an emergency basis as soon as mid-December, meaning the first shots could be administered by early next year.