Biden’s ambitious COVID plan: what scientists think


From vaccines to testing, the strategy pledges to follow the science — but researchers still anticipate a tough road ahead.

Smarter testing, faster vaccinations and health equity are cornerstones of the 200-page COVID-19 strategy released by US President Joe Biden’s administration on 21 January, just before the country surpassed 420,000 deaths due to the coronavirus. The plan pledges to “listen to science” — a shift from the approach of former president Donald Trump, who, at times, politicized scientific evidence and ignored public-health recommendations.

Many researchers posted messages on Twitter expressing relief that scientific evidence would have a central role in Biden’s plan. They also celebrated the existence of a coordinated national pandemic strategy, after complaining that Trump’s failure to enact one impaired testing, tracing and other responses required to tame the outbreak.

“This marks a pretty radical shift,” says J. Stephen Morrison, director of global health policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, who compares Biden’s strategy to a wartime national mobilization.

The speedy posting of a federal plan bodes well, says Janet Hamilton, the executive director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, based in Atlanta, Georgia. “We are really pleased to see the release of a national strategy to ensure we have a coordinated path forward,” she says.

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