Biden’s pandemic plans

The Biden-Harris administration has released a document describing its plans to bring the United States out of the ‘worst public health crisis in a century’. It is a roadmap for not only ending the pandemic in the US, but to re-establish leadership in the global health care community and provide assistance to other countries. I highly recommend that everyone read it (link to pdf).

The National Strategy is organized around six goals, and they are all very ambitious in their scope. They will require a massive infusion of expertise and an expansion of the public health and scientific workforce. For example, the President will establish a US Public Health Jobs Corps to increase the public health workforce and bolster clinical care capacity for COVID-19. It is a stunning collection of multi-pronged plans which rival efforts to bring the US out of the Great Depression. As President Biden has said, the federal government alone cannot execute this plan: it will require the help of many Americans.

One part of the strategy that I would like to focus on is part of goal 3, which is to “mitigate spread through expanding masking , testing , treatment , data, workforce, and clear public health standards” and in particular, the section entitled “Prioritize therapeutics and establish a comprehensive, integrated COVID-19 treatment discovery and development program”. An excerpt is below:

This includes promoting the immediate and rapid development of therapeutics that respond to COVID-19 by developing new antivirals directed against the coronavirus family, accelerating research and support for clinical trials for therapeutics in response to COVID-19 with a focus on those that can be readily scaled and administered, and developing broad- spectrum antivirals to prevent future viral pandemics.

As I have written before, the COVID-19 pandemic could have been prevented by using broadly-acting anti-coronavirus antiviral drugs. I am very happy that the Biden Administration has received this information and plans to act on it. How this goal will be achieved remains to be seen. Presumably much of this research will be done through NIH funding, but that will require an increase in the budget of that agency. Will such an increase – at least 10 billion dollars a year – be approved by Congress? Such drug discovery will also require collaboration with industry. But industry does not develop drugs for which there is currently no market. How this problem will be overcome remains to be determined.

Successful execution of this strategy will require a strong focus on science and public health, and an expansion of the workforce in these areas. I have the feeling, after reading the Strategic Plan, that the Biden-Harris administration realizes that science is the way out of this pandemic, and that science will help us with future pandemics. This attitude is welcome after four years of anti-science anti-think. How well it will be realized is unsure, given the divided nature of both Congress and this Nation. As a scientist, it is some of the best news that I have seen in years.

8 thoughts on “Biden’s pandemic plans”

  1. “Goal 3: Mitigate spread …”

    I stopped right there. If the Number One goal is not to eradicate the virus, then this is not a serious plan; it is more marketing, as usual, as suggested by “Goal 1: Restore Trust”.

    For China, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, etc the goal is to eradicate the virus, and they are succeeding. If one wants to know how the Chinese do it, there’s no need to even ask them, since they wrote a book on it, and it’s in English.

    For US, the goal is to sell vaccines. And even that program is a disaster.

  2. Elimination of the virus is built on the foundation of stopping its spread.

    To say that the U. S. goal is to sell vaccines is a slap in the face to the thousands of dedicated scientists and health workers trying to save American lives and, in too many cases, losing their own in the fight.

  3. Brian Hanley, PhD

    @jimells: As Tom Sethre said, the vaccines are for eradication and control of SARS-CoV-2.
    In addition, politically, USA is not China. We do not have a massive state security apparatus that exists to control the citizenry and prevent riots and uprisings. We do not have buildings and neighborhoods designed with control of movement of citizens in mind. We cannot weld the doors of homes shut to keep people inside indefinitely to enforce lockdowns. We have a quite different history than China. Draconian police state parts of China’s solutions won’t work here. We just witnessed a presidential inauguration gaurded by 25,000 troops in full battle rattle, an astonishing event for a major democracy.

    China has not eradicated the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It’s easy to check the WHO dashboard. “In China, from Jan 3 to 7:11pm CET, 22 January 2021, there have been 99,589 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 4,809 deaths.” This is a 20 day period inclusive of Jan 3. That translates to 4979 new confirmed cases per day. Applying the rough doubling factor, for those missed cases, we should expect upwards of 9959 new cases per day in China. Similarly, there were an average of 240 deaths per day. But we know that many deaths are not attributed correctly. A person in early stages of pulmonary compromise can easily have a heart attack for instance.

    I don’t see excess deaths tracking in China. For other nations, it is pretty consistently about 1.5-1.9 times what official COVID-19 deaths are. So it’s probably pretty safe to say that China has at least 1.3 times the official stats. Applying this factor gives us about 312 deaths per day in China at present.

    Remember that China is a nation that started rolling out vaccines quite early. I think this has been a major factor for them. Population control only works so well, and it is well established in quarantine studies that implementing quarantine causes infected people to flee quarantined areas, and to hide their symptoms.

    Given a population of 1.44 billion people, those numbers are very good. 10,000 new cases per day, is less than 1 per 100,000 people. It’s 7 new cases per million people per day.

    The USA’s current rate of new cases in a population of 328.2 million people is 578 new cases per million people per day.

    Further, something most epidemiologists fail to track is what the casualty rate is from economic disruptions. Our lockdown impacts have fallen mostly on the working class and the poor. The working class and parts of the middle class with severe economic harm from response to the virus have been the most in rebellion against what they see as overreaction to their being allowed to make their living. Politicians must take that into account, although as usual, some do so to divide and take advantage. Politics is the art of the possible, not anyone’s ideal.

  4. @jimells
    Respectfully, we have no evidence that the virus can be eliminated and elimination of a virus maybe an exceptional situation. With the vaccines we have we do not know if it causes sterilizing immunity and will reduce transmission or just is reducing disease, and we ran the experiment over the past year, nonpharmaceutical interventions cannot stop the spread of this virus. We have vaccines for plenty of things however we have only ever eradicated one in humans, smallpox, although polio is close. Without knowing the animal source for this virus and knowing so many other animal species maybe infected such as and not limited to ferrets, cats, mink, gorillaz, etc. It is very unlikely there wouldn’t be spill back into people. Therefore, while it’s a noble goal, we shouldn’t set unobtainable goals not supported by the science, as this virus is now likely endemic.

  5. The consensus here seems to be, “Trust us, we are doing the best we can”, even after a year of complete failure at every aspect of the public health response. Hmmm, where have I seen this sort of shambolic response before? Oh yeah, every day for the past 17 years since being struck down by ME.

    I am in a club no one wants to join and all members will do anything to leave. And now the multiple decade failure to properly investigate post viral illness, plus the failure to control the epidemic, will result in many thousands more people in the post viral illness club.

    The plan makes two offhand references to “long COVID”. The planners do not treat this in any serious way. Like me, Long Haulers will find that the illness has wrecked their health, but it is the lack of social support and outright medical abuse that will wreck their lives.

    Long COVID people are already reporting being dismissed as anxious and afraid to exercise, so that is a very bad start. Just wait until they try to find some sort of income support.

    I wish I could reply to each message addressed to me. But that would take more effort than I can muster. Sorry.

  6. “I stopped right there. If the Number One goal is not to eradicate the virus, then this is not a serious plan; it is more marketing, as usual, as suggested by “Goal 1: Restore Trust”.

    This virus will never be eradicated, it is too widespread. It will become endemic and will more than likely become another seasonal corona virus. Corona viruses tend to become milder over time, which is why they are so successful in the first place. But the idea that we will eradicate the virus is fantasy world stuff.

    It is here and it is here to stay.

  7. National #COVIDVaccineForum, a virtual event for COVID-19 vaccination practitioners seeking to administer vaccines safely, quickly, and equitably to as many people as possible.
    These two vaccines are important for United states
    1.Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
    2.Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

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