Biden Picks Former FDA Head to Help Lead Covid Vaccine, Drug Effort

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Biden Picks Former FDA Head to Help Lead Covid Vaccine, Drug Effort” – below is their description.

    David Kessler, a former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to help lead efforts to develop and distribute Covid-19 drugs and vaccines.

    Kessler, who serves as a co-chair of the Covid-19 task force for Biden, will be chief science officer of the pandemic response program, according to an emailed statement from Biden’s transition team. He’ll replace Moncef Slaoui, a scientist and former executive at British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

    Biden is turning to Kessler, who headed the FDA in the 1990s, as Operation Warp Speed faces tough challenges. After vaccines were developed and authorized in record time, state-by-state rollouts have been plagued by slow and spotty distribution.

    “We are in a race against time, and we need a comprehensive strategy to quickly contain this virus,” Biden said in the statement. “The individuals announced today will bolster the White House’s Covid-19 response team and play important roles in carrying out our rescue plan and vaccination program.”

    Other appointees announced today include Andy Slavitt, who will serve as a senior adviser on Covid response. Slavitt was acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in former President Barack Obama’s administration, and a defender of the Affordable Care Act. Amy Chang, who worked in the Department of Health and Human Services under Obama, will be a policy adviser to the effort. Abbe Gluck, a Yale University law and medicine professor, will be special counsel, according to the statement.

    Ben Wakana, former executive director of Patients For Affordable Drugs and a member of the transition team, will be deputy director of strategic communications and engagement for the response. Vidur Sharma, a former Obama health policy adviser, will be policy adviser for testing.

    Gustave Perna will remain as the program’s chief operations officer, according to a person familiar with the plans.

    Kessler led the FDA during some of the early years of the HIV epidemic, when drug regimes were developed that eventually helped turn the lethal infection into a chronic, treatable condition. Biden is considering Janet Woodcock, a 30-year veteran of the agency, for the FDA role, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the selection process.

    A professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, Kessler has also served as dean of the medical schools at Yale and UCSF, according to the statement.

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    In This Story: COVID-19

    Covid-19 is the official WHO name given to the novel coronavirus which broke out in late 2019 and began to spread in the early months of 2020.

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    • a high temperature (e.g. head feels warm to the touch)
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    GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) is a British multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Brentford, England.

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    GSK is the tenth largest pharmaceutical company and #296 on the 2019 Fortune 500, ranked behind other pharmaceutical companies including China Resources, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Sinopharm, Pfizer, Novartis, Bayer, Merck, and Sanofi.

    The company has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. As of August 2016, it had a market capitalisation of £81 billion (about US$107 billion), the fourth largest on the London Stock Exchange. It has a secondary listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

    The company developed the first malaria vaccine, RTS,S, which it said in 2014, it would make available for five percent above cost. Legacy products developed at GSK include several listed in the World Health Organization‘s List of Essential Medicines, such as amoxicillin, mercaptopurine, pyrimethamine, and zidovudine.

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    The human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) are two species of Lentivirus (a subgroup of retrovirus) that infect humans. Over time, they cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive.

    Without treatment, average survival time after infection with HIV is estimated to be 9 to 11 years, depending on the HIV subtype. In most cases, HIV is a sexually transmitted infection and occurs by contact with or transfer of blood, pre-ejaculate, semen, and vaginal fluids. Research has shown (for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples) that HIV is untransmittable through condomless sexual intercourse if the HIV-positive partner has a consistently undetectable viral load.

    Non-sexual transmission can occur from an infected mother to her infant during pregnancy, during childbirth by exposure to her blood or vaginal fluid, and through breast milk. Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells.

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