President-elect Joe Biden is filling out his COVID-19 response team, announcing his selections to coordinate vaccinations, testing and management of the supply chain.
Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, has said battling the coronavirus and ensuring that vaccines reach the American people will be the top priority of his administration, as the US death toll nears 335,000.
“This accomplished and experienced team will work to get the pandemic under control so that the American people can get back to their lives and to their loved ones. To recover from this pandemic, we must take aggressive action to manufacture, distribute, and administer vaccines, testing, and personal protective equipment in an equitable way. These individuals are deeply qualified and will restore public trust in the pandemic response by leading with facts, science, and integrity,” he said in a statement on Tuesday announcing the selections.
He named Dr. Bechara Choucair, the chief health officer for Kaiser Permanente, as his vaccination coordinator.
Choucair, a family physician, will oversee the delivery of vaccinations in partnership with federal agents and state and local officials.
Biden has touted the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed for providing assistance to pharmaceutical companies to develop the vaccine but has been critical of the government’s ability to distribute the medicine, saying during a speech Tuesday that at this pace it will “take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.”
As his testing coordinator, Biden picked Carole Johnson, the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services.
Johnson worked on the responses to the Ebola and Zika outbreaks in the Obama administration and also managed health-care workforce issues at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Her focus will be on the government’s effort to expand testing, with an emphasis on targeting testing for schools, nursing homes, hard-hit communities and other at-risk populations.
Tim Manning, who was the deputy administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the Obama administration, will coordinate the federal effort to keep a supply chain flowing so that personal protective equipment, tests, vaccines and other related supplies and equipment get to where they are most needed.