Dr. Ashish Jha, White House Covid Response Coordinator To Step Down

The White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha will be leaving his post, U.S. President Joe Biden said last week in a statement in which he thanked Jha for his handling of the pandemic.

Dr. Ashish Jha is leaving the Biden administration this month for a top position at Brown University. Jha, who has overseen the administration’s pandemic strategy since early 2022, will return to Brown as dean of its School of Public Health on July 1, the school confirmed in a news release Thursday.

Jha said in a statement: “We are in a world drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. For all we have accomplished to reduce illness and save lives, COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses in our public health and health care systems. I look forward to returning to Brown to continue our groundbreaking work transforming public health education, research and practice to convert these weaknesses to strengths.”

Jha’s departure, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes about a month after the Biden administration ended the national emergency and the public health emergency tied to the Covid pandemic. Earlier in May, the World Health Organization declared an end to the global health emergency.

His departure was reported first by the Wall Street Journal, which said Jha will be the last of the Biden administration’s rotating COVID response coordinators. Jha plans to leave June 15 and return July 1 to his previous position as dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, the newspaper reported.

Jha began his role in spring last year, when the U.S. was still on high alert due to the Omicron variant. Recently, deaths from the outbreak and cases of COVID have continued to decline.

“We’ve now had a sustained period of time with low deaths and hospitalizations. Excess mortality has been down to zero in the past couple of months. As for the impact of COVID on our lives now, we have made a lot of progress,” Jha told the Wall Street Journal in an interview on Thursday.

After the removal of the post of the COVID response coordinator, the director of the White House’s nascent Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy, who has not been named, will advise the president and coordinate federal responses to various biological and pandemic threats, the newspaper said

The White House had been expected to cut down its COVID response team after the U.S. government in May ended its COVID Public Health Emergency that let millions of Americans receive vaccines, tests and treatments at no cost.

“As one of the leading public health experts in America, he has effectively translated and communicated complex scientific challenges into concrete actions that helped save and improve the lives of millions of Americans,” Biden said of Jha on Thursday. Biden said in September last year he believed the pandemic was over in the United States.

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