Indian-American physician Dr. Vivek Murthy will co-chair the COVID-19 Advisory Board that guides US President-elect Joe Biden in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic once he assumes office in January. The board will be chaired by former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. David Kessler and Yale professor of internal medicine, public health, management, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, and Dr. Murthy.
The newly elected President of the U.S, Joe Biden, had spent much of his election campaign criticizing President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic. The pandemic has claimed over 236,000 lives in the country. In a bid to counter the ongoing virus crisis, Biden has set up this 13- member Covid-19 task force in the country, which has reported the highest number of fatalities across the world.
The London-born Murthy, whose family hails from Karnataka, received his Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and pursued MD and MBA from Yale University. He completed his internal medicine residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He later joined the Harvard Medical School as faculty in internal medicine.
He was appointed as the 19th Surgeon General by then-president Barack Obama in 2014. The youngest person ever to hold the office at the age of 37, he served from 15 December 2014 to 21 April 2017. He was later asked to step down by the Trump administration, following which Democratic senator Chris Murphy had said that Dr. Murthy was a “political target.”
The task force also has two other Indian-Americans, Dr. AtulGawande and Dr. Celine Gounder. The task force will consult with state and local health officials on how to best prevent coronavirus spread, reopen schools and businesses, and address the racial disparities- communities of colour harder hit than others by the pandemic.
Celine R. Gounder of Tamil origin is an infectious disease physician, internist, epidemiologist, filmmaker, and medical journalist specializing in infectious disease and global health. Because of her contributions to medicine and public health, Gounder was named one of People Magazine’s “25 Women Changing the World” in 2017. Brooklyn-born AtulGawande, whose parents are both immigrant doctors from India, is a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He has written extensively on public health and is the author of the Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science; Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance; and Being Mortal: Medicine What Matters in the End.