Joe Biden's scientific advisers will meet with vaccine makers in coming days as the presidential transition remains stalled because of President Trump's refusal to acknowledge that he lost the election, the AP reports. That delayed handoff is especially problematic during a public health crisis, the government's top infectious disease expert said. "Of course it would be better if we could start working with them," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has been through multiple presidential transitions during 36 years of government service. He likened the process to runners passing on the baton in a relay race. "You don't want to stop and then give it to somebody," he said. "You want to just essentially keep going."
The president-elect's outreach to the vaccine manufacturers comes as the coronavirus pandemic in the United States has entered perhaps its most dangerous phase. The seven-day rolling average for new daily cases stood at 145,400 on Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That means the US is adding about 1 million new cases a week, and deaths averaged 820 a day as of Saturday, a 33% increase in just two weeks. "We're going to start those consultations this week," said Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, citing Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies. Pfizer's announcement that preliminary data indicate its vaccine is 90% effective lifted financial markets last week and gave people worldwide hope that an end to the pandemic will be coming. (See what Fauci said about possibly returning to "normal" next year.)