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White House Covid-19 Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha leaving the administration

<i>Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/FILE</i><br/>President Joe Biden announced that Covid-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
President Joe Biden announced that Covid-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha

By Donald Judd and Maegan Vazquez, CNN

(CNN) — President Joe Biden on Thursday announced that Covid-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha is leaving the administration.

Biden offered effusive praise for the doctor, who succeeded Jeff Zients as the White House Covid-19 Response coordinator in March 2022, writing Jha “has effectively translated and communicated complex scientific challenges into concrete actions that helped save and improve the lives of millions of Americans.”

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

Biden added, “When I took office, our nation was facing a once-in-a generation pandemic, hit with a virus that changed everything. Thanks to my administration’s whole-of-government approach, we now have the tools to manage Covid-19 and the virus no longer controls our daily lives.”

A physician and researcher specializing in pandemic preparedness and response, Jha was previously the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health.

In the coordinator role, Jha led the White House’s Covid-19 response team, which was responsible for coordinating the nationwide rollout and distribution of vaccines, treatments and medical supplies. He was also a public messenger for the administration on other public health concerns, such as last year’s mpox outbreak. And Jha was at the helm when the president contracted Covid-19.

Jha’s announced departure comes a month after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that its director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, would be leaving her government post. Walensky, who is scheduled to leave the CDC at the end of June, also served as a key voice for the administration during the pandemic.

The White House was expected to disband its coronavirus response team after the Covid-19 public health emergency ended on May 11. A senior administration official previously told CNN that while the team would be disbanded, fighting Covid-19 remained an administration priority, and that “transitioning out of the emergency phase is the natural evolution of the Covid response.”

As the administration prepared earlier this spring for the end of the public health emergency, White House officials asked Covid-19 experts for their assessment of the chances the world could see a highly mutated variant, akin to Omicron, within the next two years. The experts came up with a surprisingly narrow range of probabilities, between 5% and 30%.

In May, the World Health Organization also declared Covid-19 to no longer be a global health emergency. WHO officials warned that Covid-19 continues to spread, and the virus is evolving and remains a global health threat but at a lower level of concern.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Brenda Goodman and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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