December 2, 2020

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Biden’s scientific advisors are meeting Pfizer and other vaccine makers this week, even as they can’t access White House COVID-19 plans because Trump won’t concede



a screen shot of a man: President-elect Joe Biden at an October coronavirus briefing in Wilmington, Delaware. Drew Angerer/Getty Images


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
President-elect Joe Biden at an October coronavirus briefing in Wilmington, Delaware. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Joe Biden’s scientific advisors have set up meetings with various coronavirus vaccine manufactures, as President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede continues to keep them in the dark about plans to roll out a vaccine to the public.

“We’re going to start those consultations this week,” Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, told the Associated Press on Sunday, adding that they would be meeting with Pfizer.

The White House COVID-19 task force is currently planning a US vaccine rollout after Pfizer said on November 9 that its coronavirus vaccine was 90% effective.

Other drugmakers, including Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, are in late-stage clinical trials.

Trump has repeatedly refused to concede the US election, and has not instigated any transition process — meaning Biden and his team are forbidden from engaging with government departments to get up to speed.

But Klain said it is key that Biden’s team is permitted access to the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House’s Operation Warp Speed, a $10 billion task force set up by Trump to secure, manufacture, and roll out a vaccine.



a man and a woman taking a selfie: A health care worker injects a patient with a syringe of the phase 3 Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine trial in Turkey in October 2020. Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


© Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A health care worker injects a patient with a syringe of the phase 3 Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine trial in Turkey in October 2020. Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“We need to be talking to them as quickly as possible,” Klain said. “It’s great to have a vaccine, but vaccines don’t save lives: vaccinations save lives. And that means you’ve got to get that vaccine into people’s arms all over this country. It’s a giant logistical project.”

“We now have the possibility … of a vaccine starting perhaps in December or January,” Klain said. “There are people at HHS making plans to implement that vaccine.”

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“Our experts need to talk to those people as soon as possible so nothing drops in this change of power we’re going to have on January 20th.”  

Senior Trump administration officials told The Daily Beast last week that the president’s refusal to concede could cause delays in the rollout of a vaccine, and prolong the pandemic.

“It’s essential Biden’s camp has access to this information so that when a vaccine does become available it can get out to the public quickly,” one said.



Anthony S. Fauci, Donald Trump are posing for a picture: Dr Anthony Fauci, the US' top infectious disease expert (L,) and US president Donald Trump (R) seen at a press conference in Washington, DC, during the coronavirus pandemic. AP Photo/Alex Brandon


© AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’ top infectious disease expert (L,) and US president Donald Trump (R) seen at a press conference in Washington, DC, during the coronavirus pandemic. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert in the US, has also said that it is imperative that Biden’s team is involved.

“Of course it would be better if we could start working with them,” Fauci, who has worked with multiple US presidents, told the AP. “You want to just essentially keep going.”

Public-health experts previously told Business Insider that distributing a vaccine would likely be much smoother on Biden’s watch than on Trump’s.

To that end, Biden’s scientific team has been critical of Operation Warp Speed.

Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious-disease expert on Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, said on November 12 that more emphasis needs to be placed on testing.

“We need to be funding not just vaccines. I think another major area we need to be looking at is diagnostics,” Gounder said.

The same day, Michael Osterholm, another scientific advisor to Biden, suggested implementing a six-week nationwide lockdown as the US records sky-high numbers of new cases.

Biden announced his own COVID-19 task force on November 9.

It includes former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, and Dr. Rick Bright, the scientist who filed a whistleblower complaint after getting fired from the HHS earlier this year.

As Business Insider’s Aria Bendix previously reported, Biden plans to enforce widespread testing and mandatory mask orders, as well as put in work to undo the reputational damage done by Trump to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

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