Youngkin names advisory team to help with COVID-19 management; its leader is critical of most vaccine mandates – Richmond.com

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Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin will take office on Jan. 15.
Youngkin says he’s a strong advocate for COVID vaccinations, but disagrees with mandates
Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday created an advisory group to help guide the state’s response to COVID-19 amid a record surge in cases and hospitalizations fueled by the omicron variant. 
Youngkin will be sworn into office on Saturday and quickly assume responsibility for the state’s public health care system, which is under strain due to the ongoing pandemic. 
Youngkin’s new “Medical Advisory Group” will include several hospital leaders, physicians and public health experts. It will be led by Dr. Marty Makary, a surgical oncologist and professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Makary is critical of vaccine mandates, except for health care workers; of “excessive” testing and masking policies at colleges and universities; and, booster shots for teens. 
In a statement, Youngkin said he had been receiving regular briefings about the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia, and said his administration was going to “stay on top of this.” 
“I recognize the severity of the virus and the significant loss that it has caused. Virginians should rest assured that we are monitoring this variant and doing everything we can to be smart about this,” Youngkin said. “I will enter office ready to reopen Virginia, support our health care heroes, and protect the lives and livelihoods of Virginians.”
Upon Youngkin’s inauguration, the state will lose two physicians who have so far led the state’s response: Gov. Ralph Northam and Health Commissioner Norman Oliver. 
Youngkin has not yet announced Oliver’s replacement; on Monday, he named John Littel, a veteran in health care financing, as his pick for secretary of health and human resources.
Makary has been widely critical of vaccine requirements, writing in an August op-ed for U.S. News and World Report that “those who choose not to get vaccinated are making a poor health decision at their own individual risk.” 
In a piece for The Wall Street Journal in December, Makary wrote that booster shots for healthy young people could “cause medical harm for the sake of transient reductions in mild and asymptomatic infections.” Makary argues that risk of severe illness in vaccinated young people is really low, while questions remain about the risk of heart complications from some COVID-19 vaccines. 
In a different piece in The New York Post, Makary described testing, quarantining and masking requirements at U.S. colleges and universities are “draconian” given the low risk of severe illness among college-age students. 
Youngkin’s advisory group also includes top private hospital officials in Virginia: Nancy Agee, the CEO of Carilion Clinic; Alan Levine, the CEO of Ballad Healthcare; Kathy Gorman, the chief operating officer at Children’s National; and, Bogdan Neughebauer, a high-ranking hospital official at Senatara Health. 
The group also includes Anand Shah, former deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
This is a developing story. 
mleonor@timesdispatch.com
(804) 649-6254
Twitter: @MelLeonor_
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