COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha Leaving White House

COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha Leaving White House
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on Dec. 15, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha is leaving the Biden administration to return to his previous role at a university.

Jha, who succeeded Jeff Zients as the White House COVID-19 response coordinator in March 2022, will return to his former role as Dean at the Brown University School of Public Health on July 1, the school said in a June 8 press release. 

Upon his return, Jha will focus on “transforming public health education, research, and practice,” according to the school.

“We are in a world drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jha said in announcing his stepping down.

“For all we have accomplished to reduce illness and save lives, COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses in our public health and healthcare systems,” he said.

“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.”

Prior to Brown, Jha served as the Faculty Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute from 2014 until 2020 and the Dean for Global Strategy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health from 2018 to 2020.

He stepped into the role of White House COVID-19 response coordinator during a surge in Omicron variant cases and oversaw nationwide vaccine distribution while advising on pandemic preparedness and response.

While he quickly became a public health communicator for everything pandemic-related, he was also criticized for making false claims, including that there have not been any serious side effects from COVID-19 vaccines.

Jha’s stepping down comes after the federal COVID-19 public health emergency expired on May 11, just days after the World Health Organization declared an end to the global health emergency.

Biden Praises Jha’s Public Service

President Joe Biden praised Jha in a separate statement on June 8 while noting that “we now have the tools to manage COVID-19 and the virus no longer controls our daily lives,” which he credited to his administration’s “whole-of-government approach.”

“For the last year, I have relied on Dr. Ashish Jha to help me do just that as the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator. 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.

“I extend my deepest thanks to Ashish and his family. We are a stronger and healthier nation because of his contributions to public service,” he said.

Following Jha’s departure, the director of the White House’s nascent Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy, who has not yet been named, will advise the Biden administration president coordinate federal responses to pandemic threats, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Speaking to The Hill in May, Jha explained that the administration is still focused on COVID-19, vaccines, and other possible pandemics and is “absolutely not” wrapping up its work on the issues despite the federal COVID-19 public health emergency expiring.

“It’s a transition, and it’s a transition to a period of time where we can manage this virus in a way that’s not disruptive,” Jha said. “But we are absolutely committed to continuing the fight against COVID and continuing the fight against future pandemics.”

From The Epoch Times

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