President-elect Joe Biden on Monday called for greater cooperation from the Trump White House in the effort to plan the distribution of vaccines for Covid-19 in the coming weeks and months.
“They say they have this Warp Speed program that not only dealt with getting vaccines but also how to distribute this,” Biden said at a press event, referring to the Trump administration’s coronavirus treatment and vaccine program. “If we have to wait until January 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind over a month, month and a half. So it's important there be coordination now, now or as rapidly as we can get that done.”
“More people may die if we don't coordinate," Biden warned.
Biden has announced the formation of his own coronavirus advisory board that is expected to work with Trump administration health officials as it devises plans for the incoming president to deal with the pandemic.
But Biden transition officials have been unable to speak to the White House’s Covid-19 task force as Trump continues to deny the election results and the General Services Administration refuses to sign-off on the initiation of the formal transition process.
Fauci expresses concern: Dr. Anthony Fauci, who serves on the current White House Coronavirus Task Force, said Monday that the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate with the incoming Biden administration could impair the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The comments from the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases came after news that a second vaccine candidate showed enormous promise in early testing. But Fauci expressed concerns that the lack of cooperation from the Trump White House could hamper the rapid progress, making it harder to “pass the baton” to the Biden team without slowing stride.
“The virus is not going to stop and call a time out while things change. The virus is just going to keep going. The process is just going to keep going,” Fauci said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show.
Asked if he was worried about the lack of cooperation from the Trump team so far, Fauci said, “Obviously, it's something that we're concerned about. I mean, as you know, I've served in six administrations, so I've seen a number of transitions and I know that transitions are very important. Hopefully, we'll see that soon.”
Trump largely absent: President Trump has not attended meetings of his coronavirus task force for months, and he has reportedly stopped being involved in the management of the federal response to the crisis, even as he ignores or criticizes his own officials for their efforts to encourage social distancing and mask wearing. Critics charge that the president is failing to perform one of his most basic duties.
“The duty of a president is to protect the national security of the United States, and this is the most prominent disease of mass destruction America’s ever faced, and we have a commander in chief who has run away from the problem and has made it worse,” Jack Chow, a U.S. ambassador for global HIV/AIDS during the George W. Bush administration, told The Washington Post. “We had an opportunity twice over the past eight months to bring it down to safer levels, and we failed. We are on the verge of losing control of this pandemic.”
While Trump officials deny the charge – “President Trump and his entire administration remain intensely focused on defeating this virus and saving lives as Operation Warp Speed continues to fast track lifesaving treatments and vaccines in record time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews said – at least one former administration official is more critical.
“The numbers are going to get very big in terms of hospitalizations and deaths,” said Scott Gottlieb, Trump’s former FDA commissioner. “We are just going to have a lot of death and disease.”