President-Elect Joe Biden Announces COVID-19 Plan, Task Force; Media Outlets Discuss Possible Global Health-, Foreign Policy-Related Policy Changes Under Biden-Harris Administration

CNN: How Biden plans to change the US pandemic response
“President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris say they will move the U.S. Covid-19 pandemic response in a dramatically different direction. ‘The pandemic is getting significantly more worrisome all across the country,’ Biden said on Friday. ‘I want everyone to know on day one, we’re going to put our plan to control this virus into action.’ … While President Donald Trump’s administration touted the end of the pandemic as one of its accomplishments, Biden has laid out a pandemic plan on his campaign website and it’s now echoed on the Biden-Harris transition website published Sunday…” (Christensen, 11/9).

Devex: Biden victory will mark a return to ‘normality,’ development experts say
“After four tumultuous years that saw repeated battles over foreign aid funding and priorities, many in the development community welcomed what they see as a return to normalcy with the election of Joe Biden as the next U.S. president. … The administration of President Donald Trump repeatedly recommended cutting the foreign aid budget by about 30% each year. And while significant additional funding may not be likely amid many competing priorities, major cuts will not be proposed, experts told Devex. … Development experts are pushing for Biden to elevate the role of foreign aid, including by making the USAID administrator a member of the White House National Security Council’s Principals Committee — something that has not been done before, though the administrator has attended on an as-needed basis…” (Saldinger, 11/7).

Devex: 5 Trump-era global health policies a Biden administration might undo
“When Joe Biden takes over the White House in January, global health is one area where he will likely take a very different approach from his predecessor. As president, Donald Trump has made a number of controversial policy decisions related to global health, including severing ties with the World Health Organization, expanding the so-called ‘global gag rule,’ and defunding United Nations agencies. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have said they will ‘immediately restore’ the U.S. government’s relationship with WHO as part of a seven-point plan to beat the COVID-19 pandemic. Health advocates hope they will reverse a range of other Trump administration decisions too. Here are five global health policies where a Biden administration might look to reverse the course of the last four years — and how they might go about it…” (Ravelo, 11/9).

NPR: Biden Said He’d Walk Back Trump’s WHO Walkout. Can All The Damage Be Undone?
“Back in July, President Trump’s administration began the formal process of withdrawing the U.S. — and its critical funding — from the World Health Organization. … As a candidate, Biden vowed to reverse the decision on his first day in office. Global health experts are counting on President-elect Joe Biden to restore and reimagine the U.S. relationship with the world’s leading public health agency. … But a reset does not mean a return to the way things were. And experts warn it will take time and effort to restore the U.S. to a leadership position in global health. Here are five key questions about the potential damage done by Trump’s move — and what the future could hold…” (Godoy, 11/9).

POLITICO: Joe Biden will inherit a raging pandemic. Here’s what he plans to do next.
“…[Biden’s pandemic strategy] would toss out the Trump administration’s patchwork response that put the burden on states and install a top-down national framework for testing, contact tracing, and targeted business closures. Biden’s also promised a national mask mandate, calling it ‘a patriotic duty.’ And public health experts rather than politicians will update the public once Biden is sworn in — meaning sober assessments and realistic timelines will replace Trump’s declarations that the pandemic is all but over and the virus will ‘disappear’ with or without a vaccine…” (Ollstein/Goldberg, 11/7).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Biden win seen as green light for women’s reproductive rights
“Democrat Joe Biden as U.S. president will bring sweeping changes to women’s reproductive rights globally… Biden, who captured the U.S. presidency on Saturday, has indicated his support for reversing … the Mexico City policy, that President Donald Trump imposed on his fourth day in office in January 2017. Other anticipated moves under Biden could be to repeal the 47-year-old Helms Amendment, that bans U.S. foreign aid from paying for abortions, and restoration of U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), campaigners said…” (Wulfhorst, 11/7).

USA TODAY: Biden’s approach to tackling COVID-19 will be dramatically different, and quickly apparent
“The day President Donald Trump turns the White House over to Joe Biden, COVID-19 will remain just as big a threat to Americans. But the strategy for tackling it will change dramatically. Public health experts expect a major reset, including a renewed emphasis on science, better communication, and efforts to simultaneously boost the economy and public health rather than pitting the two against each other. The shift is expected to be swift once Biden takes office…” (Weintraub/Weise, 11/8).

Washington Post: President-elect Biden announces coronavirus task force made up of physicians and health experts
“…Biden’s [COVID-19] task force will have three co-chairs: Vivek H. Murthy, surgeon general during the Obama administration; David Kessler, Food and Drug Administration commissioner under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine. Murthy and Kessler have briefed Biden for months on the pandemic. … The 13-member task force also includes former Trump administration officials, including Rick Bright, former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, who, after being demoted, spoke out against the administration’s approach to the pandemic. Luciana Borio, director for medical and biodefense preparedness on Trump’s National Security Council until 2019, is also on the panel. The group includes several other prominent doctors…” (Abutaleb et al., 11/9).

Additional coverage of Biden’s plans to address the COVID-19 pandemic, other global health and science issues, and foreign policy is available from ABC News, AP, ABC’s RN Breakfast, Axios, CNN, Financial Times, Forbes, The Hill (2), Nature, POLITICO (2), STAT, Wall Street Journal, 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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