Indian-American Dr Ashish Jha Named New White House Covid Response Coordinator

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New Delhi: US President Joe Biden on Thursday named Indian-American Dr Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, the new White House Covid-19 response coordinator, NYT reported.

Jha will lead the response of the US government to the Covid-19 pandemic, while also advancing the nation’s global health priorities and policies, Brown University reported.

“Dr Ashish Jha is one of the leading public health experts in America, and a well-known figure to many Americans from his wise and calming public presence,” Biden said. 

“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 further said.

Ashish Jha replaces Jeff Zients, a management consultant and former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama. He will take over the role from April 5, 2022.

Dr Jha’s appintment comes at a time when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data has shown that the BA.2 sub-lineage of the Omicron variant is spreading fast in the country, with infections nearly doubling every week.

Ashish Jha was born in Pursaulia, Bihar, in 1970. He moved to Canada in 1979 and then to the United States in 1983. Dr Jha is a specialist in internal diseases. He was appointed to lead the School of Public Health in February 2020, the Brown University website said.

Dr Jha is a globally recognised expert on pandemic preparedness and response as well as on health policy research and practice. 

During the Covid pandemic over the past two years, Jha has participated in Congressional hearings on vaccine rollout and the global impact of the pandemic. He has been a strong advocate for expanding global access to Covid-19 vaccines.

In 2014, Dr Jha was a co-chair of an international commission on the global response to the Ebola outbreak. 

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