A member of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, Celine Gounder, is warning that more people will die from the coronavirus in the coming months due to Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election.
Gounder, an epidemiologist, warned that the rollout for a coronavirus vaccine will suffer as a result of the Trump White House’s delays in initiating an orderly presidential transition.
“The longer we wait on transition the more people will get infected and die,” Gounder said in an interview with CNBC on Thursday.
Formal approval from General Services Administration (GSA) head Emily Murphy is required before any transition processes can begin. But Murphy has so far not made any statement acknowledging Biden’s win.
“The fact that the GSA has not followed through with ascertainment of the election results is really a major impediment to us because we’re not able to be on the inside of these very important discussions in terms of how these different vaccines are going to be distributed,” Gounder said.
Distributing the vaccine will be a huge undertaking, Gounder insisted, one that would be better executed if both the incoming and outgoing administrations could coordinate on it.
“The logistics of vaccinating 330 million Americans over the coming year or more is really a massive undertaking unlike anything people in this country have seen since the days of the polio vaccine,” Gounder added.
Gounder’s comments came as the U.S. recorded the highest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day, with 187,428 new infections reported on that day alone. Thursday also saw the highest number of deaths within a 24-hour period since the start of May, with 1,962 having died from COVID-19 within a single reporting day.
More than 11.8 million cases and 252,373 deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.
Health models are projecting that this winter will be worse. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, by January 1, the U.S will reach 2,530 deaths per day under the current circumstances.
The U.S. could bring that number down to 1,542 deaths per day if masks are worn universally until the end of the year, the health model shows.
Gounder has promoted masks as a way to combat the spread of coronavirus on her social media profiles. “Masks are one of the most important things we can do to prevent transmission of coronavirus and protect the economy,” she tweeted last week, adding that “politicizing masks,” as Trump has done in the past, is a lot like “politicizing toilet paper.”