Joe Biden's Covid-19 expert Zeke Emanuel's piece on life not worth living post 75 slammed as President-elect is 77

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who won his re-election bid this year, posted Emanuel’s piece on Twitter where he called the latter 'creepy bioethicist'

                            Joe Biden's Covid-19 expert Zeke Emanuel's piece on life not worth living post 75 slammed as President-elect is 77
Dr Zeke Emanuel (Samuel Masinter/Wikimedia Commons), President-elect Joe Biden (Getty Images)

Joe Biden has clinched the 2020 presidential election to become the oldest politician set to hold the top office starting January but his incoming administration could face some embarrassing moments, thanks to words that were uttered by Dr Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the advisory board members that were appointed to the president-elect’s coronavirus task force on Monday, November 9. 

Emanuel had said in an October 2014 piece in The Atlantic titled ‘Why I Hope to Die at 75’ as life is not worth living after 75. It could come back to put the new administration in an uncomfortable situation since Biden himself is set to turn 78 this month and the healthcare specialist now has the responsibility of protecting the country’s elderly from the pandemic that has killed more than 238,000 people in the US and affected more than 10 million. 

The 63-year-old oncologist wrote in his piece that by 75, “creativity, originality and productivity are pretty much gone for the vast, vast majority of us”. He also suggested that society and families would be “better off” if nature took “its course swiftly and promptly”. He also said that once he himself crosses 75, he personally will start turning down medical treatments like flu shots. 

“Flu shots are out”, Emanuel wrote. “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.”

Emanuel also said in his writing that since the 1960s, “increases in longevity have been achieved mainly by extending the lives of people over 60. Rather than saving more young people, we are stretching out old age”. “It is true that compared with their counterparts 50 years ago, seniors today are less disabled and more mobile. But over recent decades, increases in longevity seem to have been accompanied by increases in disability—not decreases,” the expert added.

Clarifying that he was not hoping to simply die after reaching 75, Emanuel said: “I am talking about how long I want to live and the kind and amount of health care I will consent to after 75. Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible.”

“I reject this notion. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop,” he added. 

Emanuel also penned that his view of life after 75 was partly influenced by his father who reportedly started suffering from abdominal pain that led to a heart attack when he was just short of his 77th birthday. 

“Since then, he has not been the same. Once the prototype of a hyperactive Emanuel, suddenly his walking, his talking, his humor got slower. Today he can swim, read the newspaper, needle his kids on the phone, and still live with my mother in their own house. But everything seems sluggish. Although he didn’t die from the heart attack, no one would say he is living a vibrant life,” Emanuel said. 
Emanuel also spoke about a study that said creativity grows fast as an individual’s career starts, peaks about 20 years into the career -- at around 40 or 45 -- and then enters a slow decline which is related to age. “Currently, the average age at which Nobel Prize-winning physicists make their discovery—not get the prize—is 48. Theoretical chemists and physicists make their major contribution slightly earlier than empirical researchers do,” he wrote.

“Similarly, poets tend to peak earlier than novelists do… the typical composer writes his first major work at age 26, peaks at about age 40 with both his best work and maximum output, and then declines, writing his last significant musical composition at 52.”

GOP Senator Tom Cotton slams Emanuel

The opposition GOP was critical of the appointment of Emanuel. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who won his re-election bid this year, posted Emanuel’s piece on Twitter where he called the latter “creepy bioethicists”. 

“A member of Biden’s new coronavirus task force is a lockdown enthusiast who has written that living past 75 isn’t worth it. Americans want our country opened up, not creepy bioethicists who enjoy playing God,” the lawmaker said in his tweet.


Emanuel was once a special adviser for health policy to Peter Orszag, former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (2009-11) in the former Barack Obama administration, and contributed towards shaping the policy for Obamacare. He is also the brother of former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, a close friend of Obama. 

The incoming administration's advisory board is co-chaired by former FDA commissioner Dr David Kessler, former surgeon-general Dr Vivek Murthy and Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale associate professor of medicine and epidemiology.

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