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Biden says delay in transition to put Covid-19 vaccination plan behind by ‘weeks or months’

PTI Washington | Updated on November 19, 2020 Published on November 19, 2020

US President-elect Joe Biden leaves The Queen after participating in a virtual meeting on national security in Wilmington, Delaware November 17, 2020   -  REUTERS

“We have been unable to get access to the kinds of things we need to know about the depth of the stockpiles”

US President-elect Joe Biden has warned that a delay in transition by the outgoing Trump administration will put behind the Covid-19 vaccination plan by “weeks or months“.

In a virtual roundtable with healthcare workers on Covid-19, Biden alleged on Wednesday that his transition team has not been receiving any cooperation from the Trump administration.

Also read: If Trump doesn’t cooperate, there’s risk of more deaths, says Biden

President Donald Trump has refused to concede the November 3 US election and has filed multiple lawsuits challenging poll results in several States.

“One of the problems that we’re having now is the failure of the administration to recognise - the law says that the General Services Administration has a person who recognises who the winner is and then they have to have access to all the data and information that the government possesses to be prepared,” he said.

It does not require there to be an absolute winner, Biden said, adding that it says the apparent winner.

Access to information

“We have been unable to get access to the kinds of things we need to know about the depth of the stockpiles. We know there’s not much at all. We get to the point where we have a sense of when these vaccines come out, how they’ll be distributed, who will be first in line, what the plan is,” he said.

“There’s over 300 million Americans and beyond our border that they’re going to have to be taken care of. There’s a whole lot of things that are we just don’t have available to us. So much as made available soon, we’re going to be behind by weeks or months being able to put together the whole initiative relating to the biggest promise we have with two drug companies coming along and finding 95 per cent effectiveness/efficiency in the vaccines, which is enormous promise,” Biden said.

He said it is the only slowdown right now that his transition team is facing.

“We put together I think a first-rate team that you would all be proud of and we’re all ready to go and doing an awful lot of work right now,” he noted.

‘Need smooth transition’

This week, some of the nation’s largest medical groups joined Anthony Fauci, as well as members of the Biden-Harris Covid-19 Advisory Board, in calling for the GSA to stop delaying ascertainment and ensure a seamless transition as Covid-19 infection rates surge across the country.

Also read: Biden-Harris name key public health voices in Covid-19 advisory board

The experts emphasised the need for a smooth transition to bolster the Covid-19 response and prevent further harm to the American people.

They said that ascertainment was necessary for the Biden-Harris transition to help determine the public health and economic steps to get the virus under control, to deliver immediate relief to working families, to address ongoing racial and ethnic disparities, and to reopen the schools and businesses safely and effectively.

“Work with transition team”

In a letter, the CEOs of the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association urged the Trump administration to “work closely with the Biden transition team to share all critical information related to Covid-19.”

“Real-time data and information on the supply of therapeutics, testing supplies, personal protective equipment, ventilators, hospital bed capacity and workforce availability to plan for further deployment of the nation’s assets needs to be shared to save countless lives” they wrote in the letter.

“All information about the capacity of the Strategic National Stockpile, the assets from Operation Warp Speed, and plans for dissemination of therapeutics and vaccines needs to be shared as quickly as possible to ensure that there is continuity in strategic planning so that there is no lapse in our ability to care for patients,” they said.

Also read: White House’s Operation Warp Speed hedges bets on different vaccine platforms

The letter cited their perspective as ‘providers of care for all Americans” who see the suffering that is occurring due to Covid-19.

“We see families who have lost both parents from Covid-19; we see children suffering from long-term effects due to a Covid-19 infection; and we see minority populations disproportionately suffering from the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is from this front line human perspective that we urge you to share critical data and information as soon as possible,” it said.

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Published on November 19, 2020
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