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Biden’s Vaccine Challenge

In confronting the COVID-19 crisis, US President Joe Biden will avoid many of his predecessor’s mistakes, not least by heeding the advice of scientific experts. But, unless Biden also enlists adequate management, operations, and logistics expertise, even his best-laid plans may go awry.

MILAN – US President Joe Biden’s plan for ending the COVID-19 pandemic and hastening the economic recovery is well designed and comprehensive, with clear objectives and priorities. But implementing it will not be easy, not least because it depends on rapid vaccine deployment.

The damage the pandemic has wrought has been far-reaching. In October, Lawrence H. Summers and David M. Cutler estimated that its cumulative financial costs (including lost output and health reduction) in the United States exceed $16 trillion – about 90% of annual GDP. For a family of four, the estimated loss – including income and the costs of a shorter and less healthy life – amounts to nearly $200,000.

But these costs are not being borne equally. Those in the bottom 50% of the income and wealth distribution have suffered the most, exacerbating already-high economic inequality.