By Geeta Goindi
Washington, DC, November 12, 2020 – President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Indian-American physician Vivek Murthy, US Surgeon General in the Obama era, to lead the new coronavirus task force. The announcement was made soon after Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris delivered their victory speeches in Delaware signifying the immense importance the incoming administration places on containing and combating the deadly disease.
Dr. Murthy who has been advising Biden and Harris about the pandemic throughout the year will co-chair the Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board constituting a diverse and experienced group of doctors and scientists.
New cases of the novel coronavirus have been rising at an alarming rate: some 100,000 per day over the last two weeks, with near or above 1,000 people succumbing to the disease daily according to data from the John Hopkins University. In November alone, the US reached one million cases and hospitalizations surpassed 60,000. Over 240,000 Americans have died from the disease, the highest figure in the world.
Public health experts and leading economic research firms predict the numbers will rise exponentially given the lack of intervention. According to a new report by Pantheon Macroeconomics, the US could see one million daily coronavirus cases by the end of 2020 based on the current trend of average cases rising 34 percent from week to week. These are horrific figures by any stretch of the imagination!
“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 announcing his new panel. “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”.
Murthy will co-chair the Covid-19 task force together with: Dr. David Kessler, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, currently Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); and Dr. Marcella Nunez Smith, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Public Health, and Management at Yale University.
The leading scientists and public health experts will coordinate with state and local officials to determine the necessary steps to: get the virus under control; deliver immediate relief to working families; address ongoing racial and ethnic disparities; and reopen schools and businesses safely and effectively.
Among the other advisory board members are: Dr. Atul Gawande, Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard; Dr. Luciana Boria of In-Q-Tel; Dr. Rick Bright, immunologist, virologist and former public health official; Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Celine Gounder, Clinical Assistant professor at NYU; Dr. Julie Morita of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota; Ms. Loyce Pace, executive director and president of Global Health Council; Dr. Robert Rodriguez, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine; and Dr. Eric Goosby, Professor of Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine.