With the bitter end of Donald Trump’s term, we welcome a new President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden. Along with him, Vice President Kamala Harris took office on the 20th of January. The two face an obstacle that has gone untouched through the final days of Donald Trump’s administration.
Biden released his plans for COVID-19 recovery with several other press releases from the White House’s briefing room. The President has also recognized a problem left behind by Trump, the withdrawn trust and transparency that has since disintegrated throughout the management of this pandemic. As highlighted on his campaign website, he plans to make informed public health decisions based on recommendations made by public health professionals. NPR wrote about Biden’s assembly of a 13-member coronavirus task force to eventually eliminate the virus altogether with the inclusion of seasoned scientists with relevant background that is necessary in the administration’s new approach. Dr. David Kessler from the University of California, San Francisco is set to chair the task force under the current administration. Former Surgeon General under the Obama administration Vivek Murthy is also set to join the task force, with previous epidemiology experience in managing the Ebola outbreak of 2014.
In a press release by the White House on Jan. 27, the new administration claims it will “protect scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely to provide valuable information and insights to the American people.” Formally, Biden has assembled the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), which is set to advise the President on public policy matters regarding public health and environmental concerns, among other neglected topics. The Biden Administration plans to tackle problems with transparency of vaccination availability in states, territories, and tribes. The Department of Health and Human Services will facilitate this effort.
A press release from Jan. 26 detailed a timeline for the administration to purchase, administer, and fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of this summer. This plan raises great concerns for those opposing the speedy-release of these emergency-use authorized vaccines. When asked about the expedited release of vaccines, sophomore Sophia Garcia asserted, “No I’m not concerned with the long term effectiveness of the vaccine because there aren’t any major ones yet besides a mild allergic reaction.” With the reluctance of people wanting to be vaccinated, it highlights a problem in Biden’s plan. Garcia continued, “even if you get the COVID vaccine, there is a chance of getting it again. I think there will be a shortage of the COVID vaccine because of how many people will get vaccinated [in Biden’s plan].”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released facts about this vaccination, reassuring that the vaccine teaches your immune system on how to fight the virus causing this coronavirus using naturally-producing messenger RNA (mRNA) from the vaccine. Considering that the current population of the United States is around 330 million, it’s clearly an ambitious plan to vaccinate 300 million people within 7-8 months.
The recent politicization of the vaccine and protests to pandemic-controlling measures pose a problem. Sophomore, Anjali Pal, thought it would be an idea that the administration instead, “try and get all the people who want to be vaccinated first to show the people who are reluctant to get one that the vaccine is actually safe.” Will this work? The answer is extremely open ended. The BBC released an article speaking of Biden’s plan, in which he reassures that these vaccinations will not be mandated. But considering that the goal of 300 million vaccinations and when comparing it to the population of 330 million, it seems unlikely to be achieved, these plans would be more likely to occur if such a government mandate existed considering people’s reluctance to be vaccinated according to the article where it quoted a poll from The Pew Research Center where it said about 60% of Americans would want to receive the vaccination. Only time will tell if Biden’s ambitious plan succeeds considering these steep goals.