President-elect Joe Biden has announced a list of names that will be part of his and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s COVID-19 advisory board. The group of health experts consists almost entirely of doctors — including one who was demoted by the Trump administration for speaking out against unproven treatments for the virus.
The advisory board will provide guidance to Biden and Harris as they transition into the White House and will continue to serve the Biden administration after he is sworn in as president in January. The group will be co-chaired by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler and Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale University professor and deputy director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation.
Also on the task force will be Rick Bright, the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), who claims he was forced out of his position and demoted due to his opposition to President Donald Trump’s insistence that hydroxychloroquine be promoted as a treatment for coronavirus.
Bright had argued that more research had to be conducted before making such an endorsement for the drug, and indeed, numerous studies found that while it was generally ineffective at treating the virus, it also possibly caused harm to some patients.
Bright filed a whistleblower complaint in the spring alleging that he was pushed into a lesser role at BARDA due to his resistance to pushing the drug as Trump had wanted. In October, Bright formally resigned from the Trump administration.
“I spoke out then and I am testifying today, because science — not politics or cronyism — must lead the way to combat this deadly virus,” Bright said in testimony in May, regarding his demotion.
He also offered a stark warning about the virus during his testimony, stating that, “without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history.”
Others have offered the same dire warnings in recent weeks. In late October, Anthony Fauci, a member of Trump’s coronavirus task force who has often butted heads with the president on coronavirus, predicted the winter would be a bad one, due to missteps taken earlier in the handling of the pandemic.
“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” Fauci explained in an interview last month. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”
More than 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and for the past five days, daily cases being reported have exceeded 100,000 per day. More than 237,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, and the recent seven-day average of deaths per day sits at above 900, the first time it has exceeded that number since August.
According to a widely respected coronavirus infection model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, if no steps are taken between now and January 1, daily deaths will likely exceed 2,214 per day.