Despite delays in trials and no tangible vaccine in final stages of development in the U.S., Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s coronavirus adviser Dr.says the candidate has “already started” work on his plan for expanding testing, building contact tracing capacity and distributing a vaccine.
Murthy, who served as Surgeon General during the Obama administration, told “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan in an interview on Friday that should Biden become president, adequate distribution of a vaccine would be vital to “re-building public trust in the COVID-19 response”
“It will mean putting in place the strategy and resources necessary to reopen schools and workplaces. It will mean choosing the right people to lead his COVID-19 response team. He will need to communicate regularly and transparently with the public and allow scientific experts to speak directly to the media. And he will need to build strong partnerships from day one with states, faith and community organizations, health care facilities, educational institutions, and employers. All these groups will be essential to a strong, effective COVID-19 response,” Murthy explained to Brennan in a Twitter Q&A.
According to his campaign, Biden proposes ensuring the “National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority are swiftly accelerating the development of rapid diagnostic tests, therapeutics and medicines, and vaccines.” It’s not yet clear how the agencies would exactly approach such a development.
Pressed on the potential for a Biden administration to fast-track vaccine distribution, Murthy explained that any vaccine should first meet standards for safety and efficacy with a proper public hearing to affirm those standards before going out wider to the general population.
“No corners should be cut in this process. Science not politics should guide this critical decision,” he said. “If the federal government issues an authorization for a vaccine without the support of the scientific community, it would be a mistake.”
Just this past week, Biden toldthat he’d be vaccinated against COVID-19, if there were “a vaccine tomorrow.”
“I would want to see what the scientists said,” Biden added. “I want full transparency on the vaccine.” His comments come as a CBS News poll released last week found that just 21% of voters nationwide now say they would get a vaccine as soon as possible if one became available at no cost, down from 32% in late July.
The campaign had publicly announced Murthy would be tapped to serve as coronavirus adviser in addition to several high-profile names to serve on the campaign’s transition advisory board.
Murthy most recently waded into the political arena, throwing his support behind Biden by delivering a primetime speech at last month’s Democratic National Convention, where he decried the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response.
“Our nation absolutely has what it takes to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic that’s claimed tens of thousands of our loved ones. We have the talent, resources, and technology. What we’re missing is leadership,” Murthy said in his DNC speech.
Asked why he would take such a public role in a political campaign as a medical expert, Murthy told Brennan: “We lives in such polarized times that sometimes speaking the truth can be seen as political. But that doesn’t mean the truth isn’t worth standing up for and fighting for.”
CBS News’ Bo Erickson contributed reporting.