WASHINGTON: Biden appoints Bihar-born Ashish Jha as White House Covid coordinator

WASHINGTON: Biden appoints Bihar-born Ashish Jha as White House Covid coordinator

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden on Thursday named Indian-American public health expert Dr Ashish Jha as the new White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator amid apprehensions that America could be due for another wave because of an upsurge in Western Europe and East Asia.
“Dr. Jha is one of the leading public health experts in America, and a well known figure to many Americans from his wise and calming public presence. And as we enter a new moment in the pandemic – executing on my National Covid-19 Preparedness Plan and managing the ongoing risks from Covid – Dr. Jha is the perfect person for the job,” the President said in a White House announcement, adding that he looks forward to a smooth transition from the incumbent Jeff Zients, who returns to public life, and continued progress in the months ahead in the battle against the pandemic.

The Bihar-born Jha, 51, said in a social media post that he was honored to have the opportunity to serve after being asked by the President, adding a “personal note” on his rise: “For a poor immigrant kid who left India not speaking a word of English… and found in America a nation willing to embrace me as one of her own…I am deeply honored for this chance to serve this country I love…and grateful to a President for the opportunity.”

Ashish Kumar Jha was born in Pursaulia, Madhubani, Bihar, and moved with his family when he was nine to Toronto, Canada in 1979 and later in 1983 to New Jersey, US, where he went to high school. He then went to Columbia University to study economics, and eventually to Harvard Medical School, where he went on to head the Harvard Global Health Institute, before he became Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health in 2020, just around the time the covid pandemic swept across the world.

In the months after, he won acclaim for his sharp, clear-eyed public health prescription on social media and on television, where become what one report described as “America’s everyman expert on Covid-19,” growing from “Fauci fill-in” to a “gifted communicator” who is also a “telegenic phenom.”

Dr Jha will take up his new post in April at a time Covid-19 rates have declined rapidly in the US to a weekly average of 32,000 and life has returned to near normal. But experts are warning of another wave following an upsurge in Europe.

Jha himself believes it is good to remain vigilant. “For all the progress we’ve made in this pandemic (and there is a lot)…We still have important work to do to protect Americans’ lives and well being,” he tweeted on Thursday following news of his appointment.

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