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Dr. David Kessler, who helped speed the development and approval of AIDS drugs in the 1990s, will become the top science official at Operation Warp Speed.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has chosen Dr. David Kessler to help lead Operation Warp Speed, the program to accelerate development of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, according to transition officials.
Dr. Kessler, a pediatrician and lawyer who headed the Food and Drug Administration during the presidencies of George Bush and Bill Clinton, has been a key adviser to Mr. Biden on Covid-19 policy and is co-chair of the transition team’s Covid-19 task force.
He will replace Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a researcher and former drug company executive, who will become a consultant to Operation Warp Speed. Dr. Kessler will share top responsibilities for the initiative with Gen. Gustave F. Perna, who will continue as chief operating officer, according to a Biden transition spokesman. Dr. Kessler’s responsibilities will cover manufacturing, distribution and the safety and efficacy of vaccines and therapeutics.
“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,” said Anita Dunn, co-chair of the transition team. “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.”
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