Wednesday’s planned one-hour meeting was steered by Rear Adm. Erica Schwartz, the career health department official in charge of the transition, and included attendees like HHS chief of staff Brian Harrison, HHS deputy chief of staff Paul Mango, and Operation Warp Speed logistics expert Paul Ostrowski and experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to people familiar with the agenda.
The health department confirmed the meeting.
“HHS is committed to smooth, professional transition planning, and held an initial briefing facilitated by RADM Schwartz, HHS’s career transition director, with members of the Biden agency review team, project leads from Operation Warp Speed, and HHS Chief of Staff Brian Harrison,” a spokesperson told POLITICO.
Biden’s advisers and allies had spent days attacking the Trump administration for the failure to hold transition briefings.
“Biden has put together a world-class team of advisers about COVID and about the vaccine,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week. “With no transition, they are not getting access to government information, government personnel, in order to plan for the eventual rollout of a vaccine and it’s going to cost lives.”
HHS Secretary Alex Azar this week said that his team is “immediately” working to share materials.
The transition will be carried out “in the best spirit of looking out for the health and well-being of the American people, and in particular, saving lives through this Covid-19 pandemic,” Azar told reporters on Tuesday.