President Joe Biden said Tuesday that his personal COVID-19 czar, Dr. Ashish Jha, is “basically running the CDC” at an event celebrating the authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for young children.
Biden made the remark Tuesday at a vaccination clinic sponsored by the District of Columbia Department of Health, which he visited with his wife Jill Biden. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended COVID-19 vaccines for kids under five years old last week. Biden pointed at Jha amidst a crowd to laud him for his efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Is the doctor here? I’m sorry, you see Dr. Jha, see that guy up there? He’s the guy that’s running the CDC for me these days,” Biden said. “And he’s up there, he’s standing on stage ready to perform.”
Dr. Jha does not, at least formally, run the CDC. Jha was appointed to head up the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response in March, replacing Jeffrey Zients, as it moved from a “war-time” approach to treating the virus as endemic.
The director of the CDC is Dr. Rochelle Walensky. Biden has not clarified the remark to say whether it was a misstatement or if Jha is playing some role in advising the agency. (RELATED: Pro-Maskers May Be Laying The Groundwork To Bring Back COVID Restrictions)
Jha, a highly-credentialed health scholar, was a fervent proponent of lockdown measures prior to joining the White House team. He has since defended the administration’s decision to try to force Americans to wear masks on public transportation, and is a strong advocate for vaccinating young children against the virus as well as having them wear masks.