White House Covid response coordinator Ashish Jha to step down

WASHINGTON — Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid response coordinator, is leaving the Biden administration this month for a top position at Brown University.

Jha, who has overseen the administration’s pandemic strategy since early 2022, will return to Brown as dean of its School of Public Health on July 1, the school confirmed in a news release Thursday.

Jha said in a statement: “We are in a world drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. For all we have accomplished to reduce illness and save lives, COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses in our public health and health care systems. I look forward to returning to Brown to continue our groundbreaking work transforming public health education, research and practice to convert these weaknesses to strengths.”

Jha’s departure, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes about a month after the Biden administration ended the national emergency and the public health emergency tied to the Covid pandemic. Earlier in May, the World Health Organization declared an end to the global health emergency.

President Joe Biden praised Jha in a statement, saying, “As one of the leading public health experts in America, he has effectively translated and communicated complex scientific challenges into concrete actions that helped save and improve the lives of millions of Americans.”

Biden named Jha as the Covid response coordinator in March 2022. He took over the job from Jeff Zients, who became Biden’s second White House chief of staff. At that point, the U.S. was still grappling with Covid cases from new strains of the coronavirus.

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