With COVID-19 gripping the world since late 2020, resulting in millions of deaths, it is now a Greek and an Indian leading the charge against the pandemic.
Specifically, the new White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator is an Indian-American physician named Ashish Jha and of course Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, who was born in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.
US President Joe Biden named Indian-American physician Ashish Jha as the new White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, the White House said on Thursday.
“I am excited to name Dr Ashish Jha as the new White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator. 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,” Biden said in the statement.
The 51-year-old Bihar-born Jha replaces Jeff Zients, a management consultant and former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama.
“Jeff spent the last 14 months working tirelessly to help combat COVID. He is a man of service and an expert manager. I will miss his counsel and I’m grateful for his service,” the US President said.
He also appreciated both Jeff and Dr Jha for working closely to ensure a smooth transition, and he looks forward to continued progress in the months ahead.
Taking to Twitter Dr Jha said: “So, as they say…Some news. 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. So, when @POTUS asked me to serve, I was honoured to have the opportunity.”
So, as they say…
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
— Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH (@ashishkjha) March 17, 2022
According to the Brown’s School of Public Health, Dr Jha is a practicing physician with deep expertise in infectious diseases.
He was appointed to lead the School of Public Health in February 2020, weeks before COVID-19 arrived in full force in the U.S., and he began as dean in September 2020.
He joined the University after leading the Harvard Global Health Institute and teaching at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School.
Jha was born in Pursaulia, Bihar in 1970 and moved to Canada in 1979 and then to the United States in 1983.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University in 1992 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1997, he trained in internal medicine at the University of California in San Francisco.
He completed his general medicine fellowship at Brigham & Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School and received his master of public health in 2004 from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Meanwhile, Pfizer (PFE) announced it is halting new clinical trials in Russia and donating revenue from Russia to the Ukrainian cause, joining other big pharmaceutical companies.
“Today we are announcing that effective immediately Pfizer will donate all profits of our Russian subsidiary to causes that provide direct humanitarian support to the people of Ukraine,” a company statement said.
“Our medicines are medicines, not like [an] iPhone Pro, for example, or the new Mac,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told Yahoo Finance’s Julie Hyman at SXSW Monday.
Sanctions against Russia do not include medicines, though the economic penalties could provide challenges in delivery.
“We cannot stop the flow of our medicines to Russia,” Bourla said. “Always with sanctions, medicines are excluded,”he added, citing economic penalties against Iran and North Korea.
“Ending delivery of medicines, including cancer or cardiovascular therapies, would cause significant patient suffering and potential loss of life, particularly among children and elderly people,” the company noted.
Bourla noted sanctions will take their toll not only on Vladmir Putin but also Russia itself. “The sanctions have been designed to exercise pressure (on) the regime. Unfortunately the pressure will be felt by all the other Russians,” Bourla said.