Biden coronavirus task force members announced

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

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If you want to know how seriously President-elect Joe Biden is taking SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, look no further than the set of scientists, physicians and experienced global health specialists he has selected to be members of his coronavirus task force.

On Monday morning, the Washington Post reported the names of the task force members. Journalists will want to quickly get up to speed on who they are. Though Biden doesn’t take office until January 20, he is already moving to work with governors and members of Congress to shape communications and policy approaches that will influence the U.S. approach to COVID-19 in the near and long term.

Photo: Deborah Crowe/AHCJVivek Murthy, M.D., spoke at Health Journalism 2016.

The task force will be co-chaired by David Kessler, former FDA commissioner and a professor at the University of California, San Francisco; Vivek Murthy, who was surgeon general under President Barack Obama’s administration, and Marcella Nunez-Smiththe associate dean for Health Equity Research at Yale medical school. Murthy and Kessler have been regularly advising Biden for months.

Two former Trump administration officials have joined the effort: Luciana Borio was director for medical and biodefense preparedness on Trump’s National Security Council until she left last year before the pandemic and Rick Bright, an immunologist and vaccine researcher, who was ousted by Trump political appointees in April as the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Other members include:

  • Zeke Emanuel, an oncologist, chairs the medical ethics department and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, where he’s also vice provost.
  • Atul Gawandea surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, teaches at Harvard University’s medical school.
  • Celine Gounder a physician at Bellevue Hospital Center, teaches at New York University’s medical school.
  • Julie Morita is executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
  • Michael Osterholm directs the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, where he chairs the Department of Public Health.
  • Loyce Pace is executive director and president of the Global Health Council.
  • Robert Rodriguez is a professor of emergency medicine at UCSF medical school.
  • Eric Goosby, also a professor at UCSF medical school, was the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator during the Obama administration.

Rebecca Katz, the director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center, and Beth Cameron, vice president of global biological policy and programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, director for global health security and biodefense on the White House National Security Council during the Obama administration, are serving as advisers to the transition task force.

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