Healthcare

Former Biden COVID-19 advisers, experts call for more action from White House

A group of 53 authors — some of whom served on President Biden’s COVID-19 task force before he entered the White House — have released a roadmap for the “next normal,” arguing for further action as the country prepares to live with COVID-19.

In their report released Monday, the authors acknowledged the sense of fatigue that many people are now experiencing as the pandemic stretches into its third year.

“Americans are beyond tired of waking up to uncertainty about what the future holds thanks to a COVID pandemic that feels never-ending,” said Ezekiel Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, who coordinated the report.

“As the threat of Omicron fades and Americans are looking for direction, it’s time the country maps out a way forward so that people can start to live their lives in a next normal,” he added. 

The group of epidemiologists, immunologists, virologists and policy experts who put together the report said they have been in contact with the White House as their recommended plan came together.

Authors on the report included Luciana Borio, an infectious disease physician who served on the Biden-Harris transition COVID-19 advisory board; Jill Jim, the executive director for the Navajo Department of Health; and R.P. Eddy, a former White House official and senior diplomat for the U.S. and the U.N. 

The roadmap offers 12 recommendations to “sustain the next normal” and confront future biosecurity threats.

They advised that going forward, focus should be shifted from COVID-19 to encompass all respiratory viral illnesses such as the flu. This shift in focus should be accompanied by a goal of keeping annual deaths from respiratory viral illnesses below the worst flu season seen in the past decade, the authors wrote.

The authors also called on the federal government to support the production of at-home tests, develop standards to improve indoor air quality and support the development of new therapeutics. They also voiced support for a test-to-treat approach to treatment, which President Biden announced during his State of the Union address last week.

According to the authors, the next phase of living with COVID-19 has the potential to be an “improvement over life before the virus emerged,” with a better work-life balance developing due to the rising prevalence of teleworking; the reimagining of education systems; and the development of more effective vaccines and therapeutics.

“The next normal with Covid requires a basic reorientation. The national discussion needs to shift away from Covid alone to one that encompasses major viral respiratory illnesses like influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV),” the report read. “The pandemic and its restrictive measures should end when Covid death rates decline to those of a bad influenza season.”

Tags Biosecurity Infectious diseases Joe Biden living with COVID-19 National responses to the COVID-19 pandemic Occupational safety and health
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