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Biden COVID-19 Adviser: Bring On the Lockdowns

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

A member of Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force on Wednesday embraced the idea of more lockdowns as a way to manage the pandemic after saying earlier in the week that the U.S. is "about to enter COVID hell.”

Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said a four-to-six week lockdown could be necessary.

“We could pay for a package right now to cover all of the wages, lost wages for individual workers, for losses to small companies, to medium-sized companies or city, state, county governments. We could do all of that,” he said. “If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks.”

In an op-ed he co-authored in August, Osterholm argued the springtime lockdown was problematic because it wasn’t strict enough.

“The problem with the March-to-May lockdown was that it was not uniformly stringent across the country. For example, Minnesota deemed 78 percent of its workers essential,” he and Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari wrote in The New York Times. “To be effective, the lockdown has to be as comprehensive and strict as possible.”

On Wednesday, he highlighted New Zealand and Australia as models.

“We could really watch ourselves cruising into the vaccine availability in the first and second quarter of next year while bringing back the economy long before that,” he added.

Another Biden coronavirus task force member believes, however, in a “Fair Priority Model" over "vaccine nationalism," meaning that any U.S.-developed vaccine would start being distributed internationally before all Americans received one. 

“Reasonable national partiality does not permit retaining more vaccine than the amount needed to keep the rate of transmission (Rt) below 1, when that vaccine could instead mitigate substantial COVID-19–related harms in other countries that have been unable to keep Rt below 1 through ongoing public-health efforts," Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel co-wrote in an article titled "An ethical framework for global vaccine allocation."

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