Amid growing concern that the delay in the presidential transition process could impact President-elect Joe Biden and his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Moncef Slaoui, the White House's top scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said that he has been told not to share COVID-19 vaccine information with Biden. Ever since Biden was declared the projected winner of the 2020 election, President Donald Trump has refused to concede and instead launched legal challenges and delayed the transition of power, with the General Services Administration having not yet certified the election results.
Asked Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press about the delay in the transition of power and if he would like to begin briefing Biden's team on the pandemic, Slaoui said that he would provide public information to the new administration. He will not, however, provide the incoming administration with any further information, explaining that he has "been informed that I should not be saying anything that's confidential to anybody, including anybody that's not part of the administration."
Slaoui, who said that he will "act according to what the legal requirements are," said that despite the lack of confidential information being passed on to Biden's team, the country's vaccine operation has remained "isolated" from the "political context."
Slaoui had made similar statements when speaking with ABC's This Week. Asked if he was concerned of the potential impacts of his lack of communication with the incoming Biden administration, he said that he was not "concerned with anything that could derail the process," according to Axios. He added that "as it stands now, I can't see that happening, but hopefully it doesn't happen."
Despite his assurances, some experts have felt differently, expressing fears that the lack of communication could cause a delay in the new administration's response, including the distribution of coronavirus vaccines. As of now, it is expected that the first vaccines could begin going out in December to those considered high-priority, such as frontline workers, with the rest of the general public not expected to be able to receive the vaccine until months later.
Speaking last week, Biden himself expressed concern over the lack of communication, stating that it "puts us behind over a month and a half” and that “more people may die if we don't coordinate," The Wall Street Journal reported.
Those concerns have been amplified by nearly 200 public health experts, who in a letter last week, said that "with the pandemic worsening nationwide and only two months until the transition of power, every day the transition is delayed is a day the country cannot afford." According to Forbes, those experts added that “ensuring a rapid and smooth transition will save American lives.”