The White House will get rid of its Covid response team once the public health emergency ends in May, according to reports.
The move to disband the team comes as the pandemic has receded more than three years after the first lockdowns went into effect in the United States. The team was created in February 2020 and expanded u to three dozen staffers under President Biden, The Washington Post reported.
“As a result of this administration’s historic response to Covid-19, we as a nation are in a safer, better place than we were three years ago,” a senior administration official told the Post in a statement. “Covid no longer disrupts our lives because of investments and our efforts to mitigate its worst impacts. Covid is not over, fighting it remains an administration priority, and transitioning out of the emergency phase is the natural evolution of the Covid response.”
The White House Covid team had been shrinking for some time and some staffers have already left. National coordinator Ashish Jha is likely to leave the Biden administration once the team is disbanded, the news report said.
Anthony S. Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and face of the U.S. response to the pandemic, retired in December; David Kessler, a top adviser on the pandemic and vaccine distribution, left in January; and the top job at the National Institutes of Health remains unfilled after Francis Collins stepped down in December 2021, the Post report said.
Other efforts related to the pandemic have also been shut down. Johns Hopkins University halted its tracking tool, which was closely watched to track the number of Covid cases and deaths during the outbreak.
The director of the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on last week that he is “confident” the COVID-19 pandemic will end in 2023.
“We are certainly in a much better position now than we have been at any time during the pandemic,” Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a media briefing in Geneva.