Biden advisers stress importance of masks, staying outdoors to fight Covid
The Trump administration released its coronavirus vaccine distribution strategy on Wednesday, with the goal of ensuring vaccines will be shipped to administration sites within 24 hours of approval from US regulators.Updated: Sep 17, 2020 00:03 IST
Advisers to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden stressed the importance of universal mask use and avoiding indoor gatherings as much as possible as the best ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during a briefing Wednesday.
“Every time we open indoor bars, indoor gyms, we see an uptick” in the number of cases, said Zeke Emanuel, the vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania.
Biden is expected to speak about the progress on coronavirus vaccines after the briefing ends.
The Trump administration released its coronavirus vaccine distribution strategy on Wednesday, with the goal of ensuring vaccines will be shipped to administration sites within 24 hours of approval from US regulators. The federal guidance issued to states comes as the White House is funding various vaccine candidates as part of Operation Warp Speed.
As the Trump administration promises an immediate vaccine, Biden advisers expressed caution about the ability to distribute one quickly. Though hopeful about its prospects, David Kessler, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, told Biden that Americans should not expect a rapid decline in cases before January if a vaccine becomes available because of “limited distribution” capacity.
But top US health officials offered conflicting estimates Wednesday of when Americans should expect coronavirus vaccines to be widely available. Paul Mango, a deputy chief of staff at the Department of Health and Human Services, said every American should be able to get a shot by the end of March, while Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, put it at late second quarter or third quarter of 2021.
The development and distribution of a vaccine has become a political flash point in the presidential race, as President Donald Trump has promised a vaccine would be available “very soon” while Democrats and public health experts raise concerns about political interference in the process from the administration.
Biden’s team has begun to plan for how his administration would oversee the complicated task of distributing a vaccine if he wins and a vaccine becomes available early in his term. His advisers are leveraging their relationships with officials in US government health agencies to monitor the administration’s progress.
His advisers are primarily focused on working through the supply chain issues that will impede efforts to quickly vaccinate millions of people and end a pandemic that has killed more than 196,000 people and crashed the US economy into a recession.
Experts say shrinking capacity on container ships and cargo aircraft, outdated technology to transport fragile vials of medicine and inadequate refrigeration are among the problems any administration will face in distributing the vaccine.
One Biden adviser said the group is closely monitoring reports from experts on equitable distribution, particularly one from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The adviser said the group does not plan to publish recommendations before the election, but Biden advisers want to be prepared to start distribution as soon as a vaccine is ready.
Though he has expressed concerns about Trump’s oversight of the vaccine, Biden has reiterated his desire for a safe one to be made available as quickly as possible.
“If I could get a vaccine tomorrow I’d do it,” Biden told reporters last week. “If it cost me the election I’d do it. We need a vaccine and we need it now.”