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Former Biden advisers urge a COVID-19 pandemic strategy

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People line up at a COVID-19 testing site in Times Square in the Manhattan borough of New York City.

US: On the day US President Joe Biden was inaugurated, the Advisory Board of health experts who counselled him during his transition officially ceased to exist.

But its members have quietly continued to meet regularly over Zoom, their conversations often turning to frustration with Biden’s coronavirus response.

Now, six of these former advisers have gone public with an extraordinary, albeit polite, critique – and a plea to be heard.

In three opinion articles published on Thursday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, they called for Biden to adopt an entirely new domestic pandemic strategy geared to the “new normal” of living with the virus indefinitely, not to wiping it out.

The authors are all big names in American medicine. Several, including Dr Luciana Borio, a former acting chief scientist at the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr David Michaels, a former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration now with George Washington University’s School of Public Health, have held high-ranking government positions.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters she had not read the articles, and dismissed a question about whether the president “is coming around to accepting” that COVID-19 is here to stay, even though several recent media accounts suggested that the administration was beginning to operate under that assumption.

Biden’s recent emphasis on keeping schools open and businesses running even when cases are soaring also suggests a recalibration, as does a recent decision by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that people with COVID-19 isolate for five days instead of 10.

“The President’s goal is to defeat the virus,” Psaki said, adding: “The President’s focus and objective now is to save as many lives as possible.”


Saturday, January 8, 2022 – 01:00

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