Joe Biden taps Ashish Jha to be new White House Covid coordinator

Published on Mar 18, 2022 06:08 AM IST

Dr Ashish Jha, who was born in Madhubani in Bihar, completed his medical degree from the Harvard Medical School and also did a masters in public health from Harvard TH Chan School of Public health, where he went on to serve as a professor.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, US President Joe Biden's Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients and his deputy Natalie Quillian are leaving the administration next month, the White House announced Thursday, March 17, 2022. They will be replaced by Dr. Ashish Jha. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, US President Joe Biden's Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients and his deputy Natalie Quillian are leaving the administration next month, the White House announced Thursday, March 17, 2022. They will be replaced by Dr. Ashish Jha. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
By, Washington

US President Joe Biden has appointed Ashish Jha, an Indian-American physician and academic who shot to prominence as a key scientific voice in the debate around the pandemic, as the new White House Covid-19 response coordinator.

“Dr 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. And as we enter a new moment in the pandemic - executing on my national Covid-19 preparedness plan and managing the ongoing risk from Covid – Dr Jha is the perfect person for the job,” Biden said in a statement on Thursday.

Jha, who was born in Madhubani in Bihar, completed his medical degree from the Harvard Medical School and also did a masters in public health from Harvard TH Chan School of Public health, where he went on to serve as a professor. In 2020, he became the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

Jha provided expert advice to the US administration and testified multiple times in front of the US Congress, but it was his public engagement – through the media – that lent him a high degree of visibility in American public life. Jha has also written for the Hindustan Times, and was a guest at the HT Leadership Summit in 2020.

He will replace Jeff Zients, who Biden hailed for formulating and executing a plan to build the infrastructure to deliver vaccines, tests, treatment and masks to hundreds of millions of Americans.

In the past year, the US ramped up its Covid response strategy, focusing on vaccination. “Today, almost 80% of adults are fully vaccinated; over 100 million are boosted; virtually every school is open; and hundreds of millions of at-home tests are distributed every month. In addition, the US leads the global effort to fight Covid, delivering more vaccines to other countries than every nation on earth,” Biden said.

The administration came under criticism for its response to Omicron, particularly in terms of its failure to provide for adequately and timely testing infrastructure.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Prashant Jha is the Washington DC-based US correspondent of Hindustan Times. He is also the editor of HT Premium. Jha has earlier served as editor-views and national political editor/bureau chief of the paper. He is the author of How the BJP Wins: Inside India's Greatest Election Machine and Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal.

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