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Rochelle Walensky Named New CDC Director; Biden Names Health Team
By admin December 7, 2020

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Biden Health Team

Courtesy: Biden Harris Presidential Transition

Rochelle Walensky, the highly respected chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, has been selected by President-elect Biden to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Given the long-running issues with the CDC during the Trump administration, including politicization, alleged mismanagement and data suppression, Dr. Walensky’s appointment is a welcome relief for many in the scientific community. Dr. Walensky joins a team of highly regarded Biden-Harris health team nominees, including Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services and Dr. Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General of the United States (a role he served during the Obama administration). Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has advised six (soon to be seven) presidents, pledged to be part of the new Biden team and will continue on as the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and also serve as Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19 to the President.

Some coverage below.

Politico:

“Walensky, who is also a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an expert on AIDS and HIV, will be tasked with rebuilding a critical health agency that has been sidelined by the Trump administration amid a pandemic…In the Biden administration, the CDC will take on a much larger and public role, with plans to revive regular media briefings and give a central role to career officials who have been pushed aside by President Donald Trump. Biden and his advisers have emphasized that they want to prioritize scientists over politics in responding to the pandemic.

The CDC will also play a critical role in managing the distribution of a Covid vaccine, an incredibly complex process that will be one of the largest immunization campaigns in U.S. history.

Health care leaders celebrated Walensky’s appointment after the news broke on Sunday night.

“In selecting @RWalensky, Biden has chosen one of the most respected infectious disease docs in the world,” Jen Kates, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, wrote on Twitter. “She has a long history working on HIV and has, in the past year, become a tour de force in addressing COVID. She’ll take the helm of CDC at perhaps its most critical moment.”

 

The Boston Globe:

“Walensky will replace Dr. Robert Redfield and be charged with rebuilding a troubled federal agency that has been widely regarded as ineffectual in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and President Trump’s efforts to downplay it.

“She’ll arrive in the role at a critical moment — as the virus surges across the nation and the government prepares to approve and distribute vaccines that may finally bring relief.”

“On Sunday night, news of Walensky’s upcoming job leading the nation’s premier health agency was lauded by some of her medical colleagues, including Dr. Joshua Barocas, an infectious disease specialist at Boston Medical Center.”

“Barocas considers Walensky a mentor since he served a fellowship at Mass. General from 2015 to 2018.

“Walensky, he said, “looks at health through the lens of not just the absence of disease but also the promotion of well-being.”

“It will be nice to have an actual scientist as the head of the CDC,” Barocas added, “and somebody who has literally committed her entire career to health — to the health of the community.”

 

The Hill:

“As part of her work, Walensky has studied the effectiveness of a potential coronavirus vaccine. She recently completed a study in partnership with Yale University looking at the efficacy rates of the coronavirus vaccines on a general population. Using a model they developed, the research team found that regardless of a vaccine’s effectiveness, the timing of its distribution was just as important to combating the pandemic.”

“If you have a cup of water and it can put out a fire on your stove, that same cup of water can’t put out a forest fire,” Walensky told The Harvard Crimson.

“Her research into the pandemic may prove to be invaluable in her new role, as many experts have warned one of Biden’s first challenges in office will be distributing the vaccine and convincing enough people to get immunized.”

NOTE: TBG’s COVID-19 Team provides a comprehensive and integrated package of  COVID-19 Solutions covering Public Health, Testing and Tracing, Crisis Management, Research and Data Management, and PPE Supplies. To get access to the Team, just send an email.

Biden Health Team:

Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services
The Attorney General of California, long-time champion of expanding access to health care, and former member of Congress who helped drive passage of the Affordable Care Act, Becerra led the defense 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. I’m honored to have his leadership and vision at the core of our team.

Dr. Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General of the United States
A distinguished physician, research scientist, and former Vice Admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Dr. Murthy 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 one of my long-time advisors, he currently serves as co-chair of my COVID-19 transition Advisory Board. I’m excited to welcome Dr. Murthy back to this position.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A leading expert on virus testing, prevention, and treatment, Dr. Walensky has been on the front lines 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. I’m proud to have her on our team.

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith as COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair
One of the country’s foremost experts on health care disparities and an Associate Professor of Medicine, Public Health, and Management at the Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Nunez-Smith is the founding director of Yale’s Equity Research and Innovation Center and co-chair of my COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board. Dr. Nunez-Smith will advise on a whole-of-government effort to reduce COVID-19 disparities in response, care, and treatment, including racial and ethnic disparities. There is no one more qualified than Dr. Nunez-Smith to take on this important task.

Dr. Anthony Fauci as Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19 to the President and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Dr. Fauci has been of the most trusted figures in the country throughout the pandemic and for decades prior and 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. Dr. Fauci has the experience needed to get things done.

Jeff Zients as Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President
Zients is an accomplished public servant widely known for his extraordinary track record of successfully managing large and complex initiatives. He 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 my team 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. I’m excited to tap him for this essential role.

Natalie Quillian 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. I’m excited to welcome her back in this new role.

#RochelleWalensky #CDC #COVID #COVID19 #Coronavirus #Health #Healthcare #PublicHealth #Pandemic


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