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US President-elect Biden chooses former FDA chief Kessler to lead Covid-19 vaccine programme

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WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – US President-elect Joe Biden has chosen former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner David Kessler to help lead the US Covid-19 vaccine programme Operation Warp Speed, the New York Times reported on Friday (Jan 15), citing transition officials.

The report comes after Dr Moncef Slaoui, the programme’s chief adviser, resigned at the request of the incoming Biden team, in a plan that would see him stay in the role for a month to help with the transition.

Dr Kessler, who led the FDA after being appointed by President George H.W. Bush to the top position in 1990 and served till 1997, will share top responsibilities for the initiative with General Gustave Perna, the NYT report said.

The transition team did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Dr Kessler’s move comes as the programme is at a critical juncture. US President Donald Trump’s administration had aimed to give vaccine doses to 20 million Americans by the end of 2020, but fell far short of that target.

Only 11.1 million coronavirus shots had been administered as of Thursday out of more than 30 million doses distributed to states, according to data from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

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