• Thursday, December 08, 2022

News

Dr Ashish Jha becomes Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator

Dr Ashish Jha

By: Pramod Thomas

INDIAN AMERICAN public health expert Dr Ashish Jha will take over as president Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator next month, the White House announced on Thursday (17).

The current coordinator Jeff Zients and his deputy Natalie Quillian are leaving the administration next month, it said. Jha is the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

The US president in a statement praised Dr Jha as one of the leading public health experts in America and “a well-known figure to many Americans from his wise and calming public presence.”

“..And as we enter a new moment in the pandemic – executing on my National Covid-19 Preparedness Plan and managing the ongoing risks from Covid – Dr Jha is the perfect person for the job,” Biden said.

“I appreciate both Jeff and Dr Jha for working closely to ensure a smooth transition, and I look forward to continued progress in the months ahead.”

Dr Jha was born in Pursaulia, Bihar in 1970. He moved to Toronto, Canada in 1979 and then to the US in 1983. In 1992, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Columbia University with a BA in economics. He received his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1997 and then trained as a resident in Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

He returned to Boston to complete his fellowship in General Medicine from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. In 2004, he completed his Master of Public Health degree at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2013.

Dr Jha is recognized globally as an expert on pandemic preparedness and response as well as on health policy research and practice. He has led groundbreaking research around Ebola and is now on the frontlines of the Covid-19 response.

Biden praised Zients and his team for “stunning” and “consequential” progress against the coronavirus pandemic.

Zients, an experienced manager and government executive, was brought on by Biden before he took office to devise and execute federal government response to the coronavirus pandemic, including shoring up supply and distribution of vaccines, therapeutics and tests.

“When Jeff took this job, less than one per cent of Americans were fully vaccinated; fewer than half our schools were open; and unlike much of the developed world, America lacked any at-home Covid tests. Today, almost 80 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated; over 100 million are boosted; virtually every school is open, and hundreds of millions of at-home tests are distributed every month,” he said.

“In addition, the US leads the global effort to fight Covid, delivering more free vaccines to other countries than every other nation on Earth. The progress that he and his team have made is stunning and even more important consequential. Lives have been saved.”

Biden noted that the US is leading the global effort to fight Covid, “delivering more free vaccines to other countries than every other nation.”

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