Inside Biden's COVID-19 Team
A big part of what's lean gander is doing this week is being a spokesperson. Getting the biden. Message out about what they need and what they plan to do. The president-elect as talked about appealing to governors to try to enforce mask mandates it. Do you think those would make a difference because there are places like new york. Where you and i both live where those are in place and yet we've got big outbreaks in different communities. Well i think the key is that one how enforceable is a mandate to who is issuing the mandate. Is it somebody that these communities respect. Believe trust and i think that makes a national mandate both enforcement issues as well as the trust shoes very challenging. I do think you know a mandate coming from a governor. For example governor of south dakota that would be taken very differently would be received very differently by people in south dakota. Then if the president were issuing that same mandate should we have a national testing plan or has the boat sailed on that already so the current administration has actively discouraged. Testing has said oh. We're testing too much. That is definitely not what you're going to hear under the new administration if anything you're going to see a massive ramping up of testing and really trying especially in communities of color that have been really hard hit to make sure we have much better equity in access. But who's who's responsible for that. Is that this sort of patchwork we've got now of some state some cities. Some urgent cares or is it the federal government saying okay. We're doing widespread testing. Yeah this is the place where you're going to see. The federal government really stepping in one of the places where they could have a real impact is invoking the defense production act that would mean the federal government could compel manufacturers to crank up production. President trump has done this to a limited degree but the biden team wants to use the law. More broadly both with respect to personal protective equipment as well as scaling up production of test kits. So i i really do think we need a national plan here and that will include testing Not just people who have symptoms but people who have no symptoms expanding testing and encouraging mask. Mandates are things president-elect biden could do once. He takes office in january. That's two months from now. Normally an incoming administration would be getting information from the outgoing one. But selene says that's not happening. How much does president. Trump's refusal to concede and this sort of official transition being stuck in limbo. How much does that get in your way. Well that's a huge problem. We know historically that transitions are real period of vulnerability for the country in terms of national security. And that's whether that's a a foreign threat a terrorist threat or a threat like the corona virus and so that really could very well translate into americans dying unnecessarily to give you some examples of the kind of information we want and we can't get company gloves. do we have. How many syringes. Where are we in negotiating contracts with pharmaceutical companies with the logistics of delivery. Where are we in terms of developing databases to track who's gotten vaccinated who needs to be vaccinated. I mean those are things that are in a wait and boring nuts and bolts kind of stuff. But that's the stuff that you need to be able to plan a big response like this in terms of scaling affects nations even if the to really promising looking ones pfizer moderna if they are skilled up distribution. Is this huge challenge. How are you all thinking about vaccine distribution and getting it into the communities that that need it most so why you have to scale up. The this is where really moving forward with. The transition is really going to be important because we need to have a better understanding. What's happening on the inside with the pharmaceutical company capacity. And then once you've manufactured these doses how how do you distribute them in wear and some of that will depend on the characteristics of the vaccines. So you know the the pfizer vaccine needs to be deep-frozen minus seventy celsius. Well most family doctors. I don't know that any family doctors have the capacity to store a vaccine at that temperature. a lot of community hospitals will not have that kind of capacity either. And so what you're really looking at is having probably big academic hospital centers major health systems. Maybe pharmaceutical retail chains having central depots. Where they can do that kind of storage. But that means it's going to be harder to deliver that vaccine in particular to rural areas. So my guess is you're going to see the pfizer vaccine really targeted to urban areas. That have the capacity to deal with what we call that cold chain of freezing whereas the modern vaccine which is Which has less stringent temperature requirements in his relatively stable for a month at higher temperatures. You're going to see them journal. Vaccine probably prioritized for rural areas. And as you know a couple other vaccines emerged from the pipeline. You'll see further and further sort of targeting based on how easy it is to get those vaccines to those parts of the country. How effective those particular vaccines are for. Certain patient populations you know he might have pfizer here new york city and you might have maduna in rural wyoming listening to you. Describe the kind of logistics around that. I keep thinking about communities that have been particularly hard hit when we are talking about black and brown communities indigenous communities Ease there. I guess a painful chance that given the kind of medical infrastructure that some of these vaccines require that they're going to be doubly hit in the vaccine rollout process. Yeah this is something that we're really attentive to an it is a tricky one because there are issues a vaccine skepticism and hesitancy in some of these communities for good reason. And if you say we're going to prioritize communities of color for vaccination there will be a contingent of people who will say. Oh so we're going to be guinea pigs for this new vaccine so you have to address those very real concerns even while you are trying to prioritize because the fact is these are communities whether it's the navajo in the southwest or the south bronx here in new york city is their communities have been hit really hard and continue even now to be. Hit harder So we really do need to prioritize them if we're going to maximize the impact of the vaccines. We've been talking about trust. And i have to ask you about one of your colleagues on the advisory board Zeke emanuel who quite famously wrote an essay. saying he'd like to die at seventy five and that made a lot of people in the disability community really angry. How do you get their trust. I noticed the president-elect mentioned them specifically in his speech how do you their trust with him as a part of this group. Well i don't really want to speak to to zeke in particular but in terms of the disability community ron clean and i actually co hosted a podcast together. He had to step away for biden campaign. Were going to be the chief of staff. He's going to be the chief of staff for for President-elect biden and ron and i interviewed early on during the pandemic rebecca coakley. Who's with the center for american progress. Who is a disability rights. Activist really did listen to her concerns. Were really very much attentive to the needs of that community as well so we are taking notes. We are reaching out to people from the disability community to better understand what policies they need.