US President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday that President Donald Trump's refusal to concede defeat and coordinate in the transition process could lead to more COVID-19 deaths.
The Trump administration has not yet formally acknowledged Biden as the president-elect, meaning Biden and his team are unable to access intelligence briefings on national security issues, as well as coming up with a plan to distribute potential COVID-19 vaccines.
"More people may die if we don't coordinate," said Biden at a press conference in his home town of Wilmington in the state of Delaware.
"If we have to wait until January 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind for a month, a month-and-a-half. And so it's important that it be done, that there be coordination now."
"As you battle COVID, we have to make sure that businesses and workers have the tools, the resources and the national guidance and health and safety standards to operate safely," he added.
On Trump's refusal to concede, Biden said that he found "this more embarrassing for the country than debilitating for my ability to get started."
A 'dark winter' ahead
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also held virtual meetings with union leaders and corporate heads of companies including General Motors and Gap Inc.
During the talks with labor and business leaders, Biden said that all sides agreed that more national measures are needed to help stem the spread of the virus and that work needed to be done on managing the damage caused to the US economy by the pandemic.
The president-elect also urged Congress to pass pandemic relief legislation and encouraged the further development of COVID-19 vaccines.
"We're going into a very dark winter. Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier," he said.
Biden also called out members of the current administration like Scott Atlas, Trump's health adviser, who has urged the people of Michigan to "rise up" against COVID-19 measures. "What the hell is the matter with these guys? It's totally irresponsible," said Biden.
His remarks came after US pharmaceutical firm Moderna announced its experimental coronavirus vaccine was shown to be nearly 95% effective in early testing.
The United States has logged over 11.2 million COVID-19 cases — the highest in the world.
am/rs (AFP, dpa, Reuters)