Elections 2020

What Biden’s COVID task force can do before inauguration

David Brancaccio, Meredith Garretson, Erika Soderstrom, and Alex Schroeder Nov 9, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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"The transition team can do a lot to amplify and reinforce the messages of scientists and public health experts," says Dr. Kelly Moore of the Immunization Action Coalition. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Elections 2020

What Biden’s COVID task force can do before inauguration

David Brancaccio, Meredith Garretson, Erika Soderstrom, and Alex Schroeder Nov 9, 2020
"The transition team can do a lot to amplify and reinforce the messages of scientists and public health experts," says Dr. Kelly Moore of the Immunization Action Coalition. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
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This morning, President-Elect Joe Biden announced three co-chairs of his new COVID-19 task force: Dr. Vivek Murthy, a surgeon general under President Barack Obama; Dr. David Kessler, head of the Food and Drug Administration under President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith from the Yale School of Medicine.

All members of the task force will be doctors and health experts. But what kind of effect might this task force have during this transition time?

Dr. Kelly Moore is associate director for the Immunization Action Coalition, a group of physicians and health experts that educates the public about vaccines. She spoke with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio, and the following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Dr. Kelly Moore: The transition team can do a lot to amplify and reinforce the messages of scientists and public health experts. That’s one of the most important roles they can play, is to let people know that public health experts have good advice on things they can do to protect themselves and their families now, and to use the power of their example, to be good role models about practicing what public health is advising: wearing masks, keeping their distance, not getting in crowds and making tough choices about family gatherings over the holidays.

Distribution for an eventual vaccine

David Brancaccio: Now, another part of this is that the world hopes we will get a vaccine or vaccines in the new year at some point. But distributing those vaccines is an enormous undertaking, and the Biden team won’t have a direct say in that until again inauguration.

Moore: The Biden team’s role right now, which is critical, is to start talking to state leaders and other experts about exactly what they need to equip them to roll out the vaccines effectively. It’s very possible they could already be starting to roll out a vaccine before Inauguration Day, but they will still need more resources to do that well throughout next year. And the Biden team can be prepared to get them what they need the moment they take office.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Pfizer said early data show its coronavirus vaccine is effective. So what’s next?

In the last few months, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have shared other details of the process including trial blueprints, the breakdown of the subjects and ethnicities and whether they’re taking money from the government. They’re being especially transparent in order to try to temper public skepticism about this vaccine process. The next big test, said Jennifer Miller at the Yale School of Medicine, comes when drug companies release their data, “so that other scientists who the public trust can go in, replicate findings, and communicate them to the public. And hopefully build appropriate trust in a vaccine.”

How is President-elect Joe Biden planning to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic turmoil it’s created?

On Nov. 9, President-Elect Joe Biden announced three co-chairs of his new COVID-19 task force. But what kind of effect might this task force have during this transition time, before Biden takes office? “The transition team can do a lot to amplify and reinforce the messages of scientists and public health experts,” said Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director for the Immunization Action Coalition. Moore said Biden’s COVID task force can also “start talking to state leaders and other experts about exactly what they need to equip them to roll out the vaccines effectively.”

What does slower retail sales growth in October mean for the economy?

It is a truism that we repeat time and again at Marketplace: As goes the U.S. consumer, so goes the U.S. economy. And recently, we’ve been seeing plenty of signs of weakness in the consumer economy. Retail sales were up three-tenths of a percent in October, but the gain was weaker than expected and much weaker than September’s. John Leer, an economist at Morning Consult, said a lack of new fiscal stimulus from Congress is dampening consumers’ appetite to spend. So is the pandemic.

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