Vivek Murthy named co-chair of Biden covid-19 advisory board

Vivek Murthy, Photo by The American Bazaar

The task force includes two other Indian Americans: Harvard professor and best-selling author Dr. Atul Gawande and NYU Grossman School infectious diseases specialist Dr. Celine Gounder.

As expected, President-elect Joe Biden Monday named Indian American Vivek Murthy, who served as surgeon general under President Barack Obama, as one of the three co-chairs of a 13 person Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board.

The other two co-chairs on the panel  are former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. David Kessler of the University of California, San Francisco, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale.

The 13-member task force includes two Indian American health experts, Dr. Atul Gawande, who is professor at Harvard Medical School and surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious diseases specialist at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine.

“The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations,” Biden said in a statement.

“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” he said.

“The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations,” said Biden who had made covid-19 a central part of his campaign.

READ: Vivek Murthy to head Biden coronavirus task force (November 8, 2020)

Nearly 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with coronavirus and infections in recent days have set new records, topping 100,000 per day. Nearly 238,000 Americans have died from covid-19 since January.

The advisory board will work to create a plan to bring the pandemic under control — a process Biden says will begin immediately after his Jan. 20 inauguration.

The team includes Dr. Rick Bright, who was ousted as head of the government’s leading-edge research agency, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development, or BARDA, earlier this year, after he criticized the federal government’s pandemic response.

Also on the advisory board are Luciana Borio, a biodefense and disease specialist who has worked for the National Security Council, and Eric Goosby, who was President Obama’s global AIDS coordinator.

Murthy, a key adviser to the Biden campaign, recently told NPR that a Biden administration would have “a laser focus on ensuring that people get … adequate testing and clear information.”

“We have to function as one nation. That means having a national plan,” Murthy was quoted as saying.

Gawande, a surgeon and public health expert, is a prolific writer, having served as a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1998. He is also the author of four bestsellers: Complications, Better, The Checklist Manifesto, and Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

Educated at Princeton University, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and University of Washington School of Medicine, Gounder is also an epidemiologist, filmmaker, and medical journalist.

On Friday night, Biden said, “I want everyone — everyone — to know on Day 1, we’re going to put our plan to control this virus into action.”

Murthy, 43, who originally hails from Karnataka, was the youngest ever to hold the office of surgeon general at the age of 37 when he was named to the post by Obama in 2014.

In May, the Biden Campaign appointed Indian American US House member Pramila Jayapal and Murthy as co-chairs to its Healthcare Task Force.

(This post was updated on November 11, 2020.)

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