President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients and his deputy Natalie Quillian are leaving the administration next month, the White House announced Thursday (March 17).
They will be replaced by Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.
Who is Ashish Jha?
Jha was one of the first public health experts to call for a two-week national quarantine in March 2020.
“Our hospitals and emergency rooms are not ready. We have two choices. We can have a national quarantine now, for two weeks, get a grip on where things are and then reassess,” Jha told NBC. “Or we can not, (we can) wait another week and when things look really terrible, be forced into it.”
When the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing in November 2020 about early treatment for COVID-19, Jha wrote “there is no evidence that hydroxychloroquine helps COVID-19 patients. So why is Congress still holding hearings on it?” in an article he wrote for the New York Times.
Just to be clear: Jha has never treated any COVID-19 patients.
In February 2021 when millions of Americans were getting their first COVID-19 vaccination, Jha was one of the only health experts warning about the FDA’s failure to get a better vaccine safety monitoring system up and running.
“I’m concerned about this disjointed tracking system,” Jha told the New York Times. “We knew these vaccines were coming for at least several months before they got authorized, so we really should have had a well-developed system.”
Two months later in April, he slammed the CDC for not updating its surface-cleaning guidelines for COVID-19 much sooner.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Dr. Ashish Jha told CNBC. “I think I was starting to say by last April and May, many of us in public health, stop wiping down surfaces.”