Biden has made the growing Covid-19 crisis a priority for his new administration. The task force, he said, would quickly consult with state and local health officials on how best to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, reopen schools and businesses, and address the racial disparities that have left communities of color hit harder 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 committee will help shape my approach to managing the outbreak of reported infections; ensure that vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably and free of charge; and the protection of populations at risk. “As expected, the three Council Co-Chairs are Marcella Nunez-Smith, Yale physician and researcher; Vivek Murthy, former US surgeon general; and David Kessler, former commissioner of the FDA.
Other people named 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 various other well-known physicians and academics including Zeke Emanuel, former Obama administration health care adviser, and Celine Gounder, physician and medical journalist with years of experience in combating HIV and tuberculosis epidemics.
Separately, Transition Biden announced that it has appointed two health advisers who will guide the new administration’s Covid-19 preparations but will not be part of the task force. One such advisor, Beth Cameron, is the former director of a White House biodefense council that Trump was criticized for shutting down in 2017. The other, Rebecca Katz, is a well-known professor of the global health security in Georgetown.
Despite the size of the task force, it does not include several figures still considered likely to play a major role in the Biden administration’s Covid-19 effort, including Joshua Sharfstein, former deputy commissioner of the FDA, and Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary of Health for the Obama Administration for Preparation and Response.
Here is the full list of working group members:
David Kessler, Co-chair, Former Commissioner of the FDA
Marcella Nunez-Smith, Co-Chair, Yale Associate Dean for Health Equity Research
Vivek Murthy, co-chair, former general surgeon
Luciana Borio, former deputy commissioner of the FDA
Rick Bright, former director of BARDA
Zeke Emanuel, former Obama administration health policy adviser
Atul Gawande, Professor of Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Celine Gounder, Assistant Professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine
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, Professor of Emergency Medicine UCSF
Eric Goosby, former director of Ryan White Care Act