United States President-Elect Joe Biden will name his own 12-person coronavirus taskforce on Monday. Biden’s campaign said that former US surgeon general Dr Vivek Murthy and former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr David Kessler will be co-chairs of the working group, NBC reported.
“Biden is aiming to show action on a key campaign promise, winning the fight against Covid,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “We are told he is going to officially launch his transition tomorrow [Monday] and also announce a task force that will be led by three co-chairs including former surgeon general Vivek Murthy.”
Murthy, who served as the US’ top doctor for four years under the Barack Obama administration in 2015, was dismissed from his post by Donald Trump in 2017. He was the 19th surgeon general and the first Indian-American to hold the position.
CNN on Saturday reported that Murthy and Kessler would be joined by Yale University’s Marcella Nunez-Smith, citing two unidentified officials. The rest of the taskforce, which Biden referred to in his victory speech on Sunday, will be formally confirmed on Monday.
Biden, who has criticised Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, his refusal to wear a mask and his downplaying of the threat from the pandemic, said tackling Covid-19 would be his top priority. “Our work begins with getting Covid under control,” he said in his victory speech. “I will spare no effort, none, or any commitment to turn around this pandemic.”
United States is the worst-affected from the coronavirus in the world. On Sunday, the country recorded its fourth consecutive record daily total of new Covid cases – close to 1,30,000 – taking its tally over 99.67 lakh. More than 2.37 lakh people have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
The announcement of the task force would be part of a weeklong focus that Biden intends to place on healthcare and the pandemic, as he begins the process of building his administration, an unidentified aide of his told The New York Times.
His campaign manager Bedingfield also told NBC that on day one, Biden will sign a slew of executive orders aimed at reversing key parts of the Trump agenda. “Among them: rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, reversing the withdrawal from the World Health Organization, repealing the ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries and also reinstating Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” she said.
US media have also reported that Biden said he would restore US membership in the World Health Organization, which Trump repudiated amid the coronavirus pandemic, describing the the health body as a lackey of China.
Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Sunday congratulated Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris, and said the WHO would look forward to working with them.
In a tweet, Tedros said he and his colleagues welcomed the possibility. “Crises like the covid-19 pandemic show the importance of global solidarity in protecting lives and livelihoods, together,” he said.