Biden Releases Picks For COVID-19 Response Team

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Devan A. Coombes Contributor
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President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced additional picks for the COVID-19 Response Team for Operation Warp Speed Friday morning.

These new picks will work to increase testing, quickly vaccinate as many people as possible and implement a broader COVID-19 response strategy. 

“We are in a race against time, and we need a comprehensive strategy to quickly contain this virus. The individuals announced today will bolster the White House’s COVID-19 Response team and play important roles in carrying out our rescue plan and vaccination program. At a time when American families are facing numerous challenges I know these public servants will do all that is needed to build our nation back better,” said Biden in a press release from the Office of the President-Elect Jan15th. (RELATED: Joe Biden Releases $1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Plan, Includes $2,000 Direct Payments)

Biden released eight picks for the response team. They include: David Kessler as Chief Science Officer of COVID-19 Response, Rosa Po as COVID-19 Response Team Deputy Chief of Staff, B. Cameron Webb as Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity, Andy Slavitt as Senior Advisor to the COVID-19 Response Coordinator, Abbe Gluck as Special Counsel, Amy Chang as Policy Advisor, Vidur Sharma as Policy Advisor for Testing and Ben Wakana as Deputy Director of Strategic Communications & Engagement.

Kessler currently serves as the co-chair of Biden’s COVID-19 Task Force. He was the Commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration under President George H. W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. Kessler received the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 2001 and has extensive experience in spearheading global initiatives in medicine.

Po currently serves as the  Advisor to Domestic and Economic Agency Review on Biden’s Transition Team. She previously served in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation during President Barack Obama’s administration.

Webb currently works as the Director of Health Policy and Equity at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and under the Obama administration worked on the White House Healthcare Team. 

Slavitt worked under the Obama administration as the Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and is the founder of Town Hall Ventures, which works on innovations for healthcare. 

Gluck is currently a Professor of Internal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine and has worked with Biden’s COVID-19 Task Force.

Chang currently serves on Biden’s COVID-19 Task Force and previously worked as a Special Assistant in the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration.

Sharma was a Health Policy Advisor for the Obama Administration and worked as the Deputy Research Director for the advocacy organization, Protect Our Care.

Wakana currently serves as the COVID-19 and Health Care Outreach lead on Biden’s transition team and worked as the Executive Director of the non-profit, Patients For Affordable Drugs.

“The president and vice president-elect have put together a bold rescue package and national vaccination plan and these individuals will work tirelessly by marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities, and trusting science to make it a reality,” said Biden’s incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain in the same press release. 

Operation Warp Speed was originally an initiative started by President Donald Trump. Its purpose is to accelerate the development, creation and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine as well as work on a broader strategy to eradicate the virus. 

The United States currently has more than 23 million confirmed cases and more than 380,000 deaths due to COVID-19, according to data by Johns Hopkins University and Medicine. The U.S. continues to have the highest number of cases and deaths in the world.