Joe Biden
US President-elect Joe Biden (Image: AAP/Tracey Nearmy)

When Joe Biden announced his candidacy for president of the United States in April 2019, he proclaimed it a "battle for the soul of this nation". After four years of division, disruption and discord, he declared "everything that has made America is at stake". It was a recurring theme that drove his march to the White House.

But as he takes the oath of office on January 20 Biden will inherit a crisis trifecta that nobody could have predicted two years ago.

Foremost is a COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 350,000 Americans and inflicted chronic ailments upon millions more.