President-elect Joe Biden chooses David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed

President-elect Joe Biden chooses David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed

President-elect Joe Biden chooses David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed

Kessler will take over for Moncef Slaoui, who has led the effort during the Trump administration.

Slaoui, meanwhile, is expected to stay on as a consultant during a transitional period, with Warp Speed chief operating officer and US Army General Gustave Perna staying on the team during the new administration.

Previously, Kessler served as FDA commissioner from 1990 to 1997, under the presidencies of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

The name of the effort will change, as will the people involved.

Biden has called the Trump administration's vaccine rollout "a dismal failure".

The incoming Biden administration plans to retire the name for the coronavirus vaccine effort under President Donald Trump - Operation Warp Speed - with a transition official for the incoming president telling CNN they are "moving to a new phase" of the coronavirus response.

Biden also named Amy Chang as policy adviser on the COVID-19 response, Yale Professor of Law Abbe Gluck as special counsel for the response team and Rosa Po, a previous policy adviser to Senator Amy Klobuchar as deputy chief of staff of the group, the transition team said. "We're going to see 500,000 deaths in this country sometime next month", Klain said. Kessler was asked at the time to lead that board.

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His FDA legacy chiefly rests on a sweeping investigation into tobacco industry practices, which led the agency to label nicotine an addictive drug that companies purposely manipulated to hook smokers.

Kessler will join Operation Warp Speed at a critical time. Biden has laid out a timeline for 100 million shots in the first 100 days of his term.

That pace is more than double the current rate but still would leave most of the country without the shot by the end of April.

As of Friday morning, Bloomberg reports that the US has distributed 12 million vaccines - a total that has tripled in the last 11 days but is still behind the FDA's state goal of 20 million vaccines by the end of 2020.

Kessler's assignment to the vaccine effort comes at a tense time as COVID infections are raging and the Trump administration has fallen far short of its goal of vaccinating 20 million people by the end of 2020 - two weeks into the new year and the number is closer to 11 million.

The move was a departure from an earlier strategy to stockpile enough doses to ensure that required second doses of the vaccines are available.

The vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which were approved last month, require two doses.

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