US President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his health team on Monday, naming Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Indian-American Dr Vivek Murthy as his Surgeon General.
Dr Anthony Fauci has been named as Chief Medical Adviser to the President on COVID-19, while Dr Rochelle Walensky has been named as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith as COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair.
“This trusted and accomplished team of leaders will bring the highest level of integrity, scientific rigor, and crisis-management experience to one of the toughest challenges America has ever faced – getting the pandemic under control so that the American people can get back to work, back to their lives, and back to their loved ones,? Biden said.
This team of world-class medical experts and public servants will be ready on day one to mobilise every resource of the federal government to expand testing and masking, oversee the safe, equitable, and free distribution of treatments and vaccines, re-open schools and businesses safely, lower prescription drug and other health costs and expand affordable health care to all Americans, and rally the country and restore the belief that there is nothing beyond America’s capacity if we do it together, he said.
“Containing this coronavirus pandemic and opening our economy responsibly require listening to experts and leaders like the ones we are bringing together on this health care team,” Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said, adding that they are some of America’s top physicians, public health experts, and crisis-tested public servants, and they reflect the very best of the nation.
This is the team that the American people need and deserve to make quality, affordable health care available to all and to help make sure safe and effective vaccines – as well as testing and treatment – are free and equitably distributed, Harris said.
Becerra is currently the Attorney General of California and a former member of Congress who helped drive passage of the Affordable Care Act. He led the defence of the law in the Supreme Court last month. If confirmed, Becerra will be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
A distinguished physician, research scientist, and former Vice Admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Dr Murthy is nominated to serve as Surgeon General of the United States.
He was previously confirmed by the Senate to serve in the same capacity, holding the post as ?America’s Doctor’ between 2014 and 2017.
A trusted national voice on health issues and a long-time advisor to Biden, he currently serves as co-chair of the President-elect’s COVID-19 transition Advisory Board.
Dr. Walensky, a leading expert on virus testing, prevention, and treatment, is nominated to serve as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has been on the front-line of the COVID-19 pandemic response in Massachusetts, serving as Chief of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Nunez-Smith, one of the country’s foremost experts on health care disparities, will serve as the COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair. An Associate Professor of Medicine, Public Health, and Management at the Yale School of Medicine, she is the founding director of Yale’s Equity Research and Innovation Center and co-chair of the President-elect’s COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board. She will advise the President-elect on a whole-of-government effort to reduce COVID-19 disparities in response, care, and treatment, including racial and ethnic disparities.
Dr Fauci, the nation’s preeminent expert on infectious diseases and an adviser to six US presidents, will serve as Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19 to the President and continue in his role as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Among the most trusted figures in the country throughout the pandemic and for decades prior, Dr Fauci will remain an essential voice both in informing the public about health risks and safety measures and in helping the scientific community, the Biden-Harris administration, and local officials overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jeff Zients, an accomplished public servant widely known for his extraordinary track record successfully managing large and complex initiatives, will serve as Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President.
Zients previously earned broad acclaim for his leadership of the 2013 HealthCare.gov tech surge and his oversight of the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ fuel-efficiency program. Zients will advise the president-elect on the implementation of the federal government’s COVID response, including managing safe and equitable vaccine distribution, the pandemic supply chain, and coordination across federal agencies and state and local governments.
Natalie Quillian will serve as Deputy Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response. Quillian, a national security expert and former White House and Pentagon senior advisor, played an instrumental role in coordinating the Obama-Biden administration’s interagency response to the opioid epidemic.