US News

Who are the members of Biden's new coronavirus task force?

The US president-elect has announced the make-up of the new covid-19 advisory board through his transition team after pledging to tackle the US outbreak.

0
Who are the members of Biden's new coronavirus task force?
JIM WATSON AFP

US President-elect Joe Biden has announced the members of the coronavirus task force the transition administration plans to install to tackle the pandemic in the country. Biden, who beat Donald Trump at the polls to secure a four-year term in the White House, made the covid-19 crisis in the United States a campaign priority and has moved quickly to put together a team of scientists and public health officials to replace the Trump administration’s advisory board, led by Dr Anthony Fauci.

Trump and Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, regularly clashed over the outgoing president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which was widely condemned in the US. Trump has consistently shrugged off the severity of the covid-19 crisis, repeatedly stating that case numbers have been improving despite evidence to the contrary and claiming at one stage that “99 percent” of all cases are “totally harmless,” one of several unfounded statements that Fauci felt obliged to publicly debunk.

Biden names Trump whistleblower among task force

Biden promised the US electorate that he would act swiftly in the face of spiralling case numbers in the US during the election run-off and has named three co-chairs to head up the covid-19 advisory board: David Kessler, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration; former vice-admiral Vivek Murthy, who served as Surgeon General under Barack Obama, and Marcella Nunez-Smith, Deputy Director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation.

Among the other members of Biden’s task force are Zeke Emanuel, a former adviser to Obama, Atul Gawande, a surgeon who was an adviser to both Obama and Bill Clinton and Rick Bright, the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority who was among the first experts to warn the Trump administration about the destructive potential of covid-19 for which he claimed he was removed from his post by the outgoing administration.

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.

Pfizer, BioNTech say covid-19 vaccine is over 90% effective

Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc said on Monday its experimental covid-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective, a major victory in the fight against a pandemic that has killed more than a million people, battered the world's economy and upended daily life.

Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE are the first drugmakers to release successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine. The companies said they have so far found no serious safety concerns and expect to seek US authorization this month for emergency use of the vaccine.

If authorized, the number of doses will initially be limited and many questions remain, including how long the vaccine will provide protection. However, the news provides hope that other covid-19 vaccines in development may also prove effective.

"Today is a great day for science and humanity," Albert Bourla, Pfizer's chairman and chief executive, said. "We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen."

Pfizer expects to seek broad US authorization for emergency use of the vaccine for people aged 16 to 85. To do so, it will need two months of safety data from about half the study's 44,000 participants, which his expected late this month.