Biden names new OWS lead

Jan. 15, 2021

President-elect Joe Biden Jr. has chosen Dr. David Kessler to lead the government's Operation Warp Speed vaccine initiative.

Dr. Kessler, a pediatrician and lawyer, will replace former GSK exec Moncef Slaoui, who will step down from leading OWS to consult on the initiative for a month. Slaoui, who had previously indicated that he would resign from his post once two vaccines reached the market, submitted his resignation on Wednesday as part of a plan to hand the vaccination effort over to Biden's coronavirus team.

Dr. Kessler, who previously served as FDA commissioner from Nov. 1990 to Feb. 1997, will oversee manufacturing, distribution and the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. A trusted pandemic advisor to Biden, Dr. Kessler helped speed the development and approval of AIDS drugs in the 1990s, but has not worked in government since serving as Clinton’s FDA commissioner.

President-elect Biden has set a goal of inoculating 100 million people in 100 days. With both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines authorized for emergency use, 11 million Americans have received their first dose so far, according to government figures.

Read the NYT's coverage about Dr. Kessler's appointment