Who will be on Biden’s coronavirus task force?

biden coronavirus task force
Photo via jlhervàs/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

President-elect Joe Biden wasted no time in revealing his coronavirus task force after he was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania four days after Election Day secured the win for the Democratic ticket—though there are real questions about President Donald Trump’s coronavirus plan for the last few months of his term.

Despite that, the Biden-Harris Transition on Nov. 9 announced the formation of the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, which is made up of 13 health experts. And with case numbers setting records across the country and nearly 236,000 deaths attributed to the pandemic, the Biden coronavirus task force has plenty of work ahead of it.

“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. “The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.”

The Biden coronavirus task force will be co-chaired by Dr. David Kessler, a University of California epidemiology and biostatistics professor who served as FDA commissioner from 1990-97; Dr. Vivek Murthy, who served as U.S. surgeon general from 2014-2017; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale.

The other 10 members of the advisory board are as follows:

  • Dr. Luciana Borio: Vice president of technical staff at the venture capital firm In-Q-Tel and a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, Borio specializes in biodefense, emerging infectious diseases, medical product development, and complex public health emergencies. 
  • Dr. Rick Bright: An American immunologist and virologist who previously served as an advisor to the World Health Organization, Bright has focused his career on the development of vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics to address emerging infectious diseases and national security threats. After filing an extensive whistleblower complaint in 2020 alleging that his early coronavirus warnings had been ignored, he was dismissed by the Trump administration.
  • Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel: Oncologist and vice provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, Emanuel previously served as a special health advisor for the Obama administration from 2009-11, where he helped craft the Affordable Care Act.
  • Dr. Atul Gawande: Appointed as the distinguished chair in surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Gawande previously served as a Department of Health and Human Services senior advisor during the Clinton Administration. In 2006, Gawande won a MacArthur “genius grant” for his work applying “a critical eye to modern surgical practice, articulating its realities, complexities, and challenges.”
  • Dr. Celine Gounder: An NYU clinical assistant professor who cares for patients at Bellevue Hospital Center, Gounder studied tuberculosis and HIV in South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, Ethiopia, and Brazil from 1998-2012. In addition to previously serving as a CNN medical analyst, Grounder currently hosts the EPIDEMIC podcast.
  • Dr. Julie Morita: Currently serving as executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the largest philanthropy organization focused solely on health, Morita has served on many state, local, and national health committees, including the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. In August, she wrote a CNN op-ed about the urgency of a vaccine distribution plan.
  • Dr. Michael Osterholm: Osterholm, who currently serves as director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, worked in the Minnesota Department of Health for more than 15 years as a state epidemiologist. He is also the author of the 2017 book Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, which warned that the U.S. was ill-prepared for a pandemic.
  • Ms. Loyce Pace: As executive director and president of Global Health Council, Pace has spent her career championing policies for access to essential medicines and health services worldwide. She has also worked with Physicians for Human Rights and Catholic Relief Services and previously served in leadership positions at the Livestrong Foundation and the American Cancer Society.
  • Dr. Robert Rodriguez: Professor of emergency medicine at the University of California School of Medicine, Rodriguez has authored more than 100 scientific publications and has led national research teams examining a range of topics in medicine, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of frontline providers. Over the summer, Rodriguez traveled to his hometown of Brownsville, Texas, along the U.S.-Mexico border, to help with a surge of COVID-19 cases.
  • Dr. Eric Goosby: An internationally recognized expert on infectious diseases and a University of California professor of medicine, Goosby served as the founding director of the Ryan White CARE Act—the largest federally funded HIV/AIDS program—during the Clinton Administration. He later served as the interim director of the White House’s Office of National AIDS Policy during the Obama Administration.

Sources: Biden-Harris Transition, CNN

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