Speed Reads

the biden transition

Biden reportedly taps former FDA chief David Kessler to lead vaccine efforts

President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly tapped Dr. David Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, to lead the U.S. government's COVID-19 vaccine efforts.

Biden selected Kessler to help lead Operation Warp Speed, replacing Dr. Moncef Slaoui, The New York Times and CNN reported on Friday. Kessler previously served as commissioner of the FDA from 1990 through 1997, originally appointed by former President George H.W. Bush. He also serves as the co-chair of the Biden transition's COVID-19 task force.

"Dr. Kessler became a trusted adviser to the Biden campaign and to President-elect Biden at the beginning of the pandemic, and has probably briefed Biden 50 or 60 times since March," Anita Dunn, co-chair of Biden's transition team, told The New York Times. "When staff gets asked, 'What do the doctors say?,' we know that David Kessler is one of the doctors that President-elect Biden expects us to have consulted."

Kessler will be taking over as lead of Operation Warp Speed as the federal government seeks to speed up distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States after the Trump administration failed to meet its goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020. According to the Times, Kessler "warned Mr. Biden that Operation Warp Speed was not prepared for getting the shots into people's arms" in the fall. Slaoui will reportedly become a consultant to Operation Warp Speed after previously serving as chief adviser.