A nine-member team of scientists has urged the Trump administration to replenish its strategic stockpile of medical supplies to prevent shortages should there be a second surge of new cases in the fall.
The warning follows Obama's own criticism of Trump's coronavirus response strategy as "an absolute chaotic disaster" and comes as the President is clashing with his own health experts on the timeframe for reopening the nation.
So who are the Obama advisors weighing in on the matter now?
- Those who signed onto the letter make up a newly-established Ad-Hoc Pandemic Response Group.
- The group will be issuing further reports and recommendations for members of both the Trump administration and Joe Biden's campaign, as well as lawmakers, governors and mayors from both major parties.
- According to The Guardian, which first reported about the group, Barack Obama is not responsible for any of its findings, but he has been aware of the group’s existence since it was set up.
- All nine of its members are prominent scientists who had all sat on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) during Obama's tenure.
- Between 2009 and 2016, they helped draft six reports about issues related to viral pandemics, including the H1N1 pandemic.
- Dr. John P. Holdren, 76, is a professor of environmental policy at Harvard. Holdren served as Barack Obama's chief science and technology adviser and also was a member of Bill Clinton's PCAST. He has led studies on energy, resources and population control and has called for urgent action to address climate change. He co-chaired the PCAST during Obama's time in office.
- Eric Lander, 63, is a professor of biology at MIT and professor of systems biology at Harvard. He was one of the leaders of the Human Genome Project, an international mission which determined the DNA sequence of the entire human genome in 2003. As president of MIT and Harvard's joint biomedical centre, Lander partnered with the genomic testing firm Color to develop a COVID-19 screening method which is said to be providing results 50 percent faster than existing methods. He was also a PCAST co-chair under Obama.
- Harold Varmus, 80, is a virologist and professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, a New York school involved in the development of the new testing method. In 1989, he was the co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine for studies of the genetic basis of cancer. Varmus also led the National Institutes of Health under Bill Clinton and was the director of the National Cancer Institute from 2010 to 2015. He was the third co-chair of Obama's PCAST.
- William Press, 71, is a computer scientist and astrophycisist, who is currently teaching computer sciences and integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin. He was one of the two vice-chairs of Obama's scientific council and served from 2012 to 2013 as the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society.
- Maxine Savitz, 73, is a scientist working with energy efficiency. She is the current vice president at the National Academy of Engineering. She worked at the US Department of Energy and its predecessor agencies from 1974 to 1983, with her highest position becoming Deputy Assistant Secretary for Conservation. Savitz was the second vice-chair of Obama's PCAST alongside William Press.
- Christine Cassel, 74, is a visiting professor at the University of California, San Francisco. She is a prominent expert in geriatric medicine (health care of elderly people) and bioethics. She has served as president and chief executive officer of the non-profit National Quality Forum. At PCAST, she co-chaired the Hearing Technologies Working Group, a subgroup that advised Obama on issues relating to health information technology, specifically advances in hearing aid.
- Edward Penhoet, 79, is Associate Dean of Biology at UC Berkley. He co-founded the biotech firm Chiron, which produced blood tests and vaccines and was acquired by Novartis for $5.1 billion in 2006. He is also working as a director at the San Fransisco-based healthcare venture capital firm Alta Partners. At the PCAST, he co-chaired the Hearing Technologies Working Group.
- Christopher Chyba, 60, is an astrophysicist and professor at Princeton University focusing on solar system physics, planetary exploration, and the search for alien life. He has served on the National Academy of Sciences' Committee for International Security and Arms Control.
- Susan L. Graham, 77, is a computer scientist and a professor at UC Berkley. She has been involved with Harvard for quite a while, a relationship that resulted in her joining one of the university's two governing bodies, the Harward Corporation, in 2011.