Campus Reform | Biden COVID task force member, UPenn prof questions benefits of vaccines for people over 75

Biden COVID task force member, UPenn prof questions benefits of vaccines for people over 75

Former Vice President Joe Biden announced his COVID-19 advisory board, composed primarily of scientists, including some in academia.

One member of the advisory board, a chief architect of Obamacare, questioned the benefits of people over 75 obtaining vaccines.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris announced the members of their COVID-19 presidential transition advisory board on Monday, but what one member of the group previously said could raise some eyebrows. 


In the announcement, Biden said that “dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts.” As such, the newly appointed advisory board will manage “the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.”


Ezekiel Emanuel, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the advisory board, has stated that he "hope[s] to die at 75.” 


"I am not saying that those who want to live as long as possible are unethical or wrong. I am certainly not scorning or dismissing people who want to live on despite their physical and mental limitations. I’m not even trying to convince anyone I’m right," he continued. 

"And I am not advocating 75 as the official statistic of a complete, good life in order to save resources, ration health care, or address public-policy issues arising from the increases in life expectancy. What I am trying to do is delineate my views for a good life and make my friends and others think about how they want to live as they grow older," Emanuel added.

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“Living too long is also a loss,” Emanuel wrote in a 2014 op-ed for the Atlantic. “It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.”


In terms of obtaining certain treatments for himself, Emanuel said that once he reaches age 75, “flu shots are out. Certainly, if there were to be a flu pandemic, a younger person who has yet to live a complete life ought to get the vaccine or any antiviral drugs.”


In January 2020, Emanuel wrote another op-ed for the Atlantic, in which he described his decision not to seek medical treatment for his 92-year-old father. 


Emanuel argued that others should follow the same decision that he had made.


“My father’s experience at home before his death needs to become the standard of care,” explained Emanuel. “And not just for patients with pushy sons who have medical training and know how to speak with physicians, disconnect cardiac monitors, and firmly refuse the interventions that our health-care system is so predisposed to offer.”


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Emanuel, a chief architect of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, affirmed his commitment to expanding healthcare coverage through federal programs.


Emanuel teaches a class at the University of Pennsylvania about health care reform, which examines the effects of COVID-19 on the American healthcare system. He also teaches a course that considers “some of the directions in which the American health care system may evolve next.”


Amelia Hay, Dr. Emanuel’s administrative coordinator, told Campus Reform that Emanuel is not currently taking media requests


Campus Reform reached out to the Biden-Harris transition team, as well as Emanuel, but did not receive a response in time for publication. 


Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft