Hindustan Times, Washington

Vivek Murthy returns as Surgeon General, his old job in the administration of Barack Obama.(Reuters file)



US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced Indian American Vivek Murthy, top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci and California attorney general Xavier Becerra as top members of his health team to lead his administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Murthy returns as Surgeon General, his old job in the Obama administration, and Fauci will serve as Biden’s chief medical advisor on Covid-19 and will continue to lead the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Becerra will become the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

Rochelle Walensky, an expert on virus testing, prevention, and treatment, will serve as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Marcella Nunez-Smith, a member of Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, will serve as the Covid-19 Equity Task Force chair; and Jeff Zients, an alumnus of the Obama White House, will be coordinator of the Biden administration’s Covid-19 response.

Becerra, Murthy and Walensky will have to be confirmed by US Senate.

If approved, Murthy will be the third Indian-descent member in Biden’s team, joining Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris and Neera Tanden, nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget.

“This team of world-class medical experts and public servants will be ready on day one to mobilise every resource of the federal government to expand testing and masking, oversee the safe, equitable, and free distribution of treatments and vaccines, re-open schools and businesses safely, lower prescription drug and other health costs and expand affordable health care to all Americans,” Biden said in a statement announcing the team.

The Democrat ran for the White House on the promise of tackling the Covid1-19 epidemic, which has killed more than 280,000 people in the US and infected close to 15 million, as his top priority. The country is witnessing a new surge in cases and is bracing for the prospects of a grim winter.