The transition team for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Monday announced the formation of a COVID-19 advisory board to help shape the upcoming administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic. The board consists of 13 public health experts and will be led by co-chairs Dr. David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner; Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former US surgeon general; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a researcher at Yale university.
During a press briefing on Monday, Biden stressed that his administration's COVID-19 action plan would be built on a "bedrock of science." He said the advisory board would help build detailed plans to make rapid testing more widely available, ramp up contact tracing efforts and get vaccines to the most at risk populations.
"I will spare no effort to turn this pandemic around once we are sworn in on January 20," Biden said during the briefing. "To get our kids back to school safely, our businesses growing and our economy running at full speed again, and to get an approved vaccine manufactured and distribute it as quickly as possible to as many Americans as possible."
Biden also encouraged all Americans to wear a mask and to social distance to help slow the spread of the virus, saying that wearing a mask is not a political statement.
"We could save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months," Biden said. "Not Democrat or Republican lives, American lives."
The total number of coronavirus cases in the US is nearing 10 million, with the country reporting over 100,000 new daily COVID-19 cases on multiple days last week. More than 200,000 people have died due to COVID-19 in the US, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In addition to the three co-chairs, the other members Biden's COVID-19 advisory board include: Dr. Luciana Borio, Dr. Rick Bright, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Dr. Atul Gawande, Dr. Celine Gounder, Dr. Julie Morita, Dr. Michael Osterholm, Ms. Loyce Pace, Dr. Robert Rodriguez and Dr. Eric Goosby.