As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, the Biden administration is aiming to make high-quality masks available to all Americans for free. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD and Céline Gounder, MD, former health advisers to President Biden’s transition team, join Washington Post Live to lay out a new national strategy for living with COVID-19, rather than continuing efforts to eradicate the virus. They will also discuss the latest developments with the omicron variant, the national booster campaign, testing and mounting pressure on the U.S. health-care system as staff shortages and lack of ICU beds complicate care.

Highlights

“What the administration is encouraging people to do is really use them if you have symptoms, if you’ve had a high risk exposure and want to know if you have covid, or if you’re going to be around people who are highly vulnerable, for example… people who are elderly, highly immunocompromised, living in a congregate settings or are otherwise vulnerable.” (Washington Post Live)
“What we know about vaccines and long covid is very promising and reassuring in that people who have been vaccinated are less likely to develop long covid if they have a breakthrough infection after vaccination, and we’re also seeing increasing evidence that if you vaccinate somebody who has long covid, that can help reorient the immune system and essentially help treat them.” (Washington Post Live)
“Our CDC has been less than good at engendering trust by the population because of its confusing announcements, its change in announcements, and that really does need change on the federal government level.” (Washington Post Live)
“The best way to protect kids under 5, to protect the immunocompromised is to disseminate vaccinations throughout the population and bring the case count and the circulating viruses down so that there’s a slower chance that those vulnerable groups will be exposed to virus. We’re not getting to zero, we’re reducing the risks.” (Washington Post Live)

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD

Provided by the University of Pennsylvania.

Ezekiel J. Emanuel is the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor, and Co-Director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. From January 2009 to January 2011, Dr. Emanuel served as a Special Advisor on Health Policy to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council. Prior to that he was the founding chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health from 1997 to August of 2011. Dr. Emanuel received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in political philosophy from Harvard University. Dr. Emanuel served on President Clinton’s Health Care Task Force, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), and on the bioethics panel of the Pan-American Healthcare Organization. He has published over 300 articles mainly on health care reform, research ethics, and end of life care in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, JAMA, and many other medical journals. He has also authored or edited 15 books. His new book entitled Which Country Has the World’s Best Health Care? was published in June 2020. Dr. Emanuel is the most widely cited bioethicist in history.

Céline Gounder, MD

Dr. Gounder is the CEO/President/Founder of Just Human Productions, a non-profit multimedia organization. She’s also the host and producer of American Diagnosis, a podcast on health and social justice, and Epidemic, a podcast about the SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 / coronavirus pandemic.

From November 9, 2020 to January 20, 2021, Dr. Gounder served on the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board.

She is a CNN Medical Analyst, and prior to that, was a frequent expert guest on CBS, MSNBC, CNBC, HLN, BBC, Al Jazeera America, MTV, Dr. Oz, and Oprah Prime. She’s written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Guardian US, The Washington Post, Reuters, Quartz, Sports Illustrated, and Bloomberg View. She’s best known for her coverage of the Ebola, Zika, COVID-19, opioid overdose, and gun violence epidemics.

Dr. Gounder is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine. She cares for patients on the wards at Bellevue Hospital Center.

In early 2015, Dr. Gounder spent two months volunteering as an Ebola aid worker in Guinea. In her free time, she interviewed locals to understand how the crisis was affecting them. She is currently making Dying to Talk, a feature-length documentary about the Ebola epidemic in Guinea.

Between 1998 and 2012, she studied TB and HIV in South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, Ethiopia, and Brazil. While on faculty at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Gounder was the Director for Delivery for the Gates Foundation-funded Consortium to Respond Effectively to the AIDS/TB Epidemic. She later served as Assistant Commissioner and Director of the Bureau of Tuberculosis Control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

She received her BA in Molecular Biology from Princeton University, her Master of Science in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and her MD from the University of Washington. Dr. Gounder was an intern and resident in Internal Medicine at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital, and a post-doctoral fellow in Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University. She was elected a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in 2016 and featured in the IDSA’s 2017 Annual Report. In 2017, People Magazine named her one of 25 Women Changing the World. In 2021, InStyle Magazine named her one of 50 Women Making the World a Better Place.

Dr. Gounder lives with her husband Grant Wahl in New York City.