Health & Fitness

Biden transition staff receives official Operation Warp Pace briefing, HHS’ Azar says, after weeks of delays

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WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team has been briefed on America’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters Tuesday.

Azar said that on Monday evening Rear Adm. Erica Schwartz, the official leading the transition planning effort, briefed the Biden team on Operation Warp Speed, which aims to get a coronavirus vaccine to the public in record time.

“We are immediately getting them all of the pre-prepared transition briefing materials,” Azar said.

“We will ensure coordinated briefings with them to ensure they’re getting whatever information that they feel they need,” Azar said, adding that the “transition planning and execution will be professional, cooperative and collaborative.”

The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The move ends weeks of delays in the formal handover of power from President Donald Trump to the Biden administration in the wake of the U.S. presidential election. Trump has not conceded the election to Biden.

The U.S. is grappling with a dramatic resurgence of coronavirus cases as major holidays approach. Thus far, the nation has recorded at least 257,991 Covid-19 related deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The Trump administration has been criticized as not doing enough to control the spread of the deadly disease.

Last week, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech applied for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for their Covid-19 vaccine. The FDA process is expected to take a few weeks, and an advisory committee meeting to review the vaccine has been scheduled for early December.

Pfizer announced on July 22 that the U.S. agreed to buy 100 million doses of its vaccine for up to $1.95 billion. The agreement, which is part of Operation Warp Speed, allows the U.S. to acquire an additional 500 million vaccine doses.

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Katherine Clark