Biden COVID advisor is leaving the White House

Politico reports that David Kessler is leaving the White House. 

Kessler has been one of the Biden administration’s top COVID-19 advisors.

Who is he?

Prior to the Biden administration, Kessler had worked under the administrations of both former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Between 1990 and 1997, Kessler was the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

More recently, Kessler co-chaired President Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force. And, for the past two years – since January 2021 – he has been the administration’s chief science officer.

NBC News reports that “Kessler has played a leading role in the development and roll-out of COVID vaccines,” overseeing “the Trump-era initiative dubbed Operation Warp Speed to accelerate vaccine and treatment development.”

According to The Hill:

Kessler and his team oversaw Biden’s goal of getting 100 million shots in arms his first 100 days in office, even after use of the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused. Upon Kessler’s departure, roughly 80 percent of the U.S. population has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.

Kessler, though, as The Hill goes on to report, has not had similar success in getting Americans to take COVID booster shots. Only 16 percent of Americans over 5 years old have done so.

He’s gone

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Kessler will be departing from the administration.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra put out a statement praising Kessler’s efforts.

Becerra said:

Whether he was leading our effort to develop and distribute safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, or sharing his perspective during daily strategy sessions and data deliberations, Dr. Kessler’s contributions to our COVID-19 response have helped save lives. I am grateful for the wisdom he has shared with us and wish him the best in his future endeavors.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain, similarly, said, “There has been no more valued and trusted wise advisor to the @POTUS on scientific and medical matters than Dr. Kessler.  He will be GREATLY missed.”

Background

The departure comes not long after the retirement of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) who spent decades in government.

It is not immediately clear why either of the two men has departed. No explanation has been given. But, the Biden administration has been facing increased pressure for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives has vowed to investigate aspects of it, including Fauci’s role.

Kessler is now scheduled to leave the administration at the end of the month.

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