The Covid-19 crisis remains the most acute issue confronting the Biden administration. After an initial flush of enthusiasm that the virus had been defeated, President Joe Biden has grappled uneasily with the delta variant and is now issuing what amounts to a vaccine mandate. How should America proceed? Will a mandate work? Should booster shots be recommended not simply for those sixty-five years and older but also for the general population?
To assess these and other questions, the Center for the National Interest convened a distinguished panel of experts for a probing discussion.
William Haseltine has educated a generation of doctors at Harvard Medical School, designed the strategy to develop the first treatment for HIV/AIDS, is well known for his groundbreaking work on cancer, and led the team that pioneered the development of new drugs based on information from the human genome. Dr. Haseltine’s relentless focus on delivering world-changing results led TIME magazine to name him one of the “25 Most Influential Global Business Executives.” He is the author of more than two hundred peer-reviewed manuscripts and eleven books, including two books on the coronavirus: A Family Guide to Covid and A Covid Back to School Guide. His most recent book, My Lifelong Fight Against Disease: From Polio and AIDS to COVID-19, was published in October 2020. He is currently chair and president of the global health think tank ACCESS Health International.
Kavita Patel is a Nonresident Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a practicing primary care physician. Previously, she was the managing director of clinical transformation at the Center for Health Policy at Brookings. She is the author of a recent op-ed in the Washington Post criticizing the Biden administration for the confusion surrounding booster shots. Dr. Patel is an advisor to the Bipartisan Policy Center and a member of Health and Human Services Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee. She also served in the Obama administration as director of policy for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement in the White House. As a senior aide to Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama’s senior adviser, she played a critical role in policy development and evaluation of policy initiatives connected to health reform, financial regulatory reform, and economic recovery issues. She currently advises healthcare technology and services organizations through New Enterprise Associates.
Jacob Heilbrunn, the editor of the National Interest magazine, moderated.