President-elect Joe Biden got to work this morning by announcing a team of advisers that would consult on the pandemic once he takes office on January 20th. The COVID-19 advisory board consists of doctors and nurses with a lot of experience in epidemiology and epidemic response from around the nation. This announcement comes on the same day that Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is around 90% effective, and that it could have a widespread release in 2021.
One of the immediate things we noticed about President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board was how diverse it is. Because COVID-19 disproportionately impacts Black and minority communities, the team of thirteen diverse doctors and experts will likely be able to advocate for all communities in the United States as the country recovers from the tragedy of the pandemic. Here is President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 task force:
Dr. Vivek Murthy
Dr. Vivek Murthy was the Surgeon General of the United States from 2014 to 2017. During that time, Dr. Murthy worked specifically on protecting volatile communities. Having previously worked on the Flint water crisis, hurricane relief and in preventing Zika and Ebola from reaching under-represented communities in the United States, it’s safe to say that Dr. Murthy will likely put a focus on helping those same communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Murthy has been named a co-chair of the advisory board.
Dr. David A. Kessler
Dr. David Kessler has a longstanding history of leading healthcare services in the United States. Having served as the FDA Commissioner between 1990 and 1997, Kessler has consulted with several Presidential administrations on healthcare, including President Clinton and President H.W. Bush. Dr. Kessler will serve as a co-chair on the COVID-19 advisory board under President Biden when he assumes office in January 2021.
Dr. Nunez-Smith is a professor at Yale University and is the Associate Dean for Health Equity Research at Yale’s School of Medicine in Hartford, Connecticut. Dr. Nunez-Smith, like Dr. Murthy, specializes in healthcare equity for marginalized communities in the United States, focusing on reforming structural issues within healthcare that prevent equity in the first place.
Eric Goosby is a public health official with over 35 years of experience working on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and served as the United States Global AIDS Coordinator during the Obama Administration. In that role he was responsible for spearheading the U.S. response to HIV/AIDS across the globe as well as on domestic soil. Goosby currently serves as the UN Special Envoy in Tuberculosis, and is on the board of the Clinton Foundation.
Dr. Morita currently serves as the Executive Vice President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic project dedicated to public health. Prior to working with the Foundation, Morita led the Chicago Department of Public Health where she implemented changes to increase public access to immunizations in the area.
Loyce Pace is the President and Executive Director of the Global Health Council and previously worked with the LIVESTRONG Foundation. Much of Pace’s work has been in improving access to essential medicine and healthcare around the world, and she also worked with the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Robert Rodriguez is a Professor of Emergency Medicine at UCSF and graduated from Harvard Medical School. Rodriguez has contributed to hundreds of studies and is a pioneer in the subject of COVID-19 response and its mental health impact on medical workers, especially among providers working on the frontlines.
Dr. Luciana Borio
Dr. Borio specializes in the field of biodefense and works on health emergencies as well as with emerging diseases. As the Vice President of Technical Staff at In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm that works with the Central Intelligence Agency to invest in technology that can help the Agency with communications.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel
Dr. Emanuel works at the University of Pennsylvania as an oncologist and Vice Provost for Global Initiatives. Dr. Emanuel is also the chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy for Pennsylvania, and helped form the budget for health policy under the Obama Administration.
Dr. Rick Bright
Dr. Bright is a virologist and has worked as a public health official in the past. Dr. Bright has, in the past, worked as an advisor to the World Health Organization and the United States Department of Defense and has focused his work on vaccine development.
Dr. Atul Gawande
Dr. Gawande is a professor at both Brigham and Harvard Medical Schools. Dr. Gawande has focused his career on improving safety standards during surgery for people around the world. He worked as an advisor to the Department of Health and Human Services while President Clinton was in office.
Dr. Celine Gounder
As a clinical Associate Professor at NYU, Dr. Gounder worked in Africa during the Tuberculosis and AIDS epidemics before working with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Gounder is a specialist in infectious diseases and even has a podcast called In Sickness and in Health.
Dr. Michael Osterholm
Dr. Osterholm is the Director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Osterholm warned health officials prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that the United States was not well-equipped to handle a pandemic should it come.