President-Elect Biden Names Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board Members, Lauds Pfizer Vaccine Results But Urges Caution; Media Outlets Examine Whether U.S. Global Health Leadership Can Be Restored

CNN: Here’s who’s on President-elect Biden’s newly formed Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board
“President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ newly appointed Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board is led by established public health officials and staffed by a mix of doctors and current and former government officials, some with high-profile media visibility. The advisory board is co-chaired by former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Yale associate professor of medicine and epidemiology. … Biden said Monday that they will seek to add other members to the board going forward. Here’s a look at who he has appointed to the board so far…” (Levenson, 11/9).

Devex: Can Biden rebuild U.S. global health leadership?
“…Over four tumultuous years, Trump proposed to slash funding for international health programs, sidelined America’s own technical experts and agencies, picked political fights with international health institutions in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, and declined to join collective efforts aimed at ensuring equitable access to a vaccine. Biden has sought to provide reassurance that his administration will seek to return the U.S. government to a place of global health leadership, pledging to undo many of the Trump administration’s policies, and to take a more active and productive role on the global stage. … Global health experts caution that restoring U.S. global health leadership to its former status will not be as easy as flipping a switch. Some of them doubt it will be possible to return to the world that existed before Trump and before COVID-19…” (Igoe, 11/10).

The Hill: Biden lauds Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine news, but urges country to remain cautious
“President-elect Joe Biden on Monday lauded the news of Pfizer’s progress on a COVID-19 vaccine but urged Americans to be cautious because widespread vaccination is still many months away. In a statement, Biden said Pfizer’s announcement that interim data showed its vaccine was 90 percent effective was ‘excellent news’ that gives Americans ’cause for hope.’ But Biden said the news does not mean there is a cure. He urged patience and attempted to set realistic expectations that the timetable for any potential vaccine has not changed, and it will be well into 2021 before there is widespread vaccination…” (Weixel, 11/9).

POLITICO: Biden and his shadow health panel start plotting pandemic response
“President-elect Joe Biden gave clear signals on Monday that his administration will take a completely different approach to the coronavirus pandemic — warning that the United States would face a ‘very dark winter,’ unveiling a new Covid advisory group stacked with veteran public health experts, lowering expectations for a rapidly available vaccine, and making an urgent plea for Americans to cover their faces and slow the soaring rate of infection. … The 10-minute speech offered the best glimpse yet at how Biden will guide the country through a health crisis that’s likely to peak as he prepares to assume office. He struck a tone resembling that of a wartime president, speaking of the pandemic’s threat in dire terms and setting public expectations for a drawn-out, monthslong campaign to crush the outbreak in the U.S…” (Ollstein/Forgey, 11/9).

Vox: Trump abandoned the WHO. Biden will rejoin the agency on day one in office.
“Joe Biden’s transition team has confirmed the president-elect will reverse a Trump-era decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization on his first day in office, winning praise from experts who welcome the end of Trump’s isolationist approach. … On Sunday, Biden’s press secretary told Vox the president-elect will proceed with that plan, keeping America’s membership in the only global body that can declare a pandemic and internationally mobilize to stop it. Global health experts, including critics of the WHO, welcomed the news. … Restoring America’s reputation in this arena will take more than rejoining the WHO, however — especially at a time when China has been filling the void Trump left behind…” (Belluz, 11/9).

Additional coverage of the Biden-Harris plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic and other global health issues is available from Becker’s Hospital Review, Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, The Hill, Newsweek, NPR, POLITICO, Science, STAT, TIME, and Washington Post.

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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