After four years of daily hammering at the foundations of government, democracy and evidence-based policy, most American voters have rightly decided that enough is enough, and embraced the future of hope, truth, decency, evidence and science.
The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next President and Vice President of the United States offers a welcome glimmer of hope in a year marred by the tragedy of the pandemic.
The country and the world may begin to close the door on four years of chaos, devastation, incompetence and the normalization of false information from the holder of the highest public office of the United States. In a Nature poll conducted since the election results were announced, more than 75% of the respondents said they are optimistic about the results.
As expected, President Donald Trump is refusing to accept the result, but we are confident that the rule of law will prevail and his term will end, as it should on January 20, 2021.
When this magazine endorsed Biden’s candidacy for President of the United States, we did so because of his campaign promise to restore science’s place in government and return the country to its previous international commitments.
Within days of calling for results Biden and Harris, the incoming administration announced that the United States would rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord, and Trump’s dangerous decision to pull out of the World Health Organization (WHO). will reverse. In our survey, Nature readers expressed support for these priorities – and expressed hope that the administration would appoint a science advisor and do more to support epidemiology.
We are confident that Biden, Harris and their team will respect the need and integrity of regulatory agencies, and that they will quickly roll back restrictions on visas for international students and researchers imposed by Trump’s administration. Policies that disproportionately target women, people of color, refugees and migrants, members of sexual and gender minorities, and other underrepresented groups must also be eradicated for good.
Biden’s immediate domestic priority should be to take personal charge of a swift, comprehensive and evidence-based effort to control and protect the health of the American population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must be brought back from the shore, taking it to the center of the response.
On November 9, Biden’s transition team announced that it would form a new task force. That’s welcome, but the incoming administration should also quickly find a message that resonates with Trump supporters, especially those who followed the outgoing president in refusing to accept expert public-health advice. Such national reconciliation is needed for a number of reasons – not least because the virus will not be contained until the whole country accepts what it takes to defeat it.
During the campaign, Biden was transparent about the reality of the threat facing the American public. is not going away; It is dangerous and toxic, and researchers are just beginning to study its long-term effects. The Biden-Harris team must continue to reinforce evidence-based public-health messages on the need to wear masks, social distancing, and hand-washing.
And the incoming administration must work constructively with cities and states — as the Trump administration should have long ago — to accelerate and expand test-trace-isolate programs where these help contain the virus. can do. It will follow best practice for controlling infectious disease outbreaks, supported by evidence from past outbreaks and countries that are managing pandemics more efficiently.
In addition, the United States must rapidly return to working productively with international initiatives to ensure that vaccines are equitably distributed to those who will need them most around the world. Specifically, it should collaborate with a fund led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation.
The international community can now anticipate – and the prospect of – a more integrated response to other diseases as well. De-funding the WHO was particularly dangerous for low-income countries that rely on the agency to maintain public-health infrastructure standards and combat deadly diseases. In addition to the pandemic, WHO epidemiologists, physicians and logistics staff currently oversee more than 35 emergency operations, including those dealing with the measles outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the cholera outbreak in Yemen.
back on climate track
As Biden and Harris have made abundantly clear, climate change will be an immediate priority for the new administration, both at home and internationally.