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ezekiel-emanuel
Ezekiel Emanuel is chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Penn.

Penn Vice Provost of Global Initiatives Ezekiel Emanuel has been named to President-elect Joe Biden's Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board.

The board consists of 13 leading public health experts who will guide the United States’ pandemic response under the next presidential administration. Other members include former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler, former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Yale professor Marcella Nunez-Smith, and former Chicago Health Commissioner Julie Morita.

“It is a great honor to serve for the President elect and Vice President elect to address this pandemic and get the country moving again,” Emanuel told Penn Today of the appointment.

Emanuel, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Penn, served as a special advisor for health policy to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2009 to 2011. 

During his time working with President Barack Obama’s administration, Emanuel aided the nation’s response to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, giving him first-hand experience with pandemic response. Since 1997, he has served as chair of the Department of Bioethics at The Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health.

“The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations,” Biden said, according to a Nov. 9 press release by the Biden-Harris Transition. 

The advisory board will consult with state and local officials to determine the best public health and economic practices to "get the virus under control, to deliver immediate relief to working families, to address ongoing racial and ethnic disparities, and to reopen our schools and businesses safely and effectively," according to the press release.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have vowed to control the virus under the guidance of scientists — a markedly different approach to President and 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump who has repeatedly dismissed research and data. While new daily cases are rising in at least 40 states, with more than 10.1 million total infections and 238,000 deaths since the outbreak in March, the White House coronavirus task force has remained relatively dormant in comparison to its activity earlier this spring.

Emanuel said in a recent interview with MarketWatch that he believes the U.S. will likely need at least 12 more months before completely re-opening, adding that the current COVID-19 response setbacks in the U.S. include inefficient testing and a lack of nationwide precautionary health measures.

“Our work begins with getting COVID under control,” Biden said during his victory speech Saturday night. “That plan will be built on bedrock science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy and concern.”

Biden urged Americans to follow public health precautions such as mask-wearing and social distancing, emphasizing that doing so is “not a political statement.”

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