President-elect Joe Biden is poised to tackle the coronavirus pandemic when he becomes inaugurated as the next U.S. president in January, following a federal response from the Trump administration that has been deemed one of the worst in the world. But a seamless transition in the coronavirus response from the Trump administration to the Biden administration hasn’t been easy, because there has to be, well, an actual transition.
More than two weeks after the 2020 election, the sitting American president is still refusing to accept the election results and concede to his opponent. Therefore, there has not yet been any semblance of a coronavirus transition from Trump to Biden.
Eschewing the basic norms of democracy presents no shortage of complications. But perhaps most dire is that by refusing to participate in a peaceful transfer of power, Trump is effectively preventing the Biden coronavirus task force from communicating with current government epidemiology experts—thereby hindering any immediate progress the team hopes to make.
This was the topic of conversation on a recent CNN broadcast when Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke with host Jake Tapper, who asked the infectious disease expert how problematic a scenario this presents.
In his usual blunt candor, which has won him few friends in the current administration, Fauci did not mince words.
“I have been through multiple transitions now, having served six presidents for 36 years,” he said. “And it’s very clear that that transition process that we go through, that time period of measured in several weeks to months, is really important in a smooth handing over of the information.”
“It’s almost like passing a baton in a race,” Fauci continued. “You don’t wanna stop and give it to somebody, you just wanna essentially keep going, and that’s what transition is, so it certainly would make things go more smoothly if we could do that.”
When asked if it would be a good idea if his team could be currently working with the Biden-Harris transition team as a basic public health measure, Fauci replied: “Of course, that’s obvious.”
Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, echoed Fauci’s sentiments on Meet the Press.
“Joe Biden is going to become president of the United States in the midst of an ongoing crisis. That has to be a seamless transition,” said Klain.
“We now have the possibility, we need to see if it gets approved, of a vaccine starting perhaps in December, January. There are people at [the Department of Health and Human Services] making plans to implement that vaccine,” he added. “Our experts need to talk to those people as soon as possible so nothing drops in this change of power in January.”
If the current administration keeps stonewalling Biden, the consequences could be disastrous, especially when it comes to the topic of vaccine distribution. “If we have to wait until Jan. 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind,” Biden said, via the New York Times. “More people may die if we don’t coordinate.”