President Biden has chosen Dr. Paul Fredericks, a military war surgeon and retired Air Force major general who helped lead the Covid-19 response at the Pentagon, will head a new White House office created by Congress to prepare for and manage future biological threats.
The White House announced the appointment on Friday and said it would take effect in August. 7. Then it will depend on Dr. Fredericks established the new office, the Office of Epidemic Preparedness and Response Policy, although the administration named it by the shorter Washington acronym: OPPR.
The appointment follows a long search for a director that ended where it began – at the White House, where Dr. Fredericks most recently joined the National Security Council staff as senior director for global health security and biosecurity. Prior to that, he served at the Pentagon as Joint Staff Surgeon and provided medical advice to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. their planned selection was reported last week by The Washington Post.
Why this matters: Health threats loom in the future.
The coronavirus pandemic has often been described as the worst public health crisis in a century. But experts agree that given current migration patterns and the way humans interact with animal life, the next pandemic may not take a century – and perhaps not even a decade.
The era of the Covid “czar” is over. Mister. Biden’s first White House coronavirus response coordinator, Jeffrey D. Zients, is now the White House chief of staff. Other coordinator Dr. Ashish K. Jha has returned to his position as dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.
COVID-19 made it clear that biological health threats do not respect borders – including those that divide federal agencies. The appointment of Dr. Fredericks signals a more sustained and coordinated effort to prepare for and respond to the pandemic — one that will go beyond the Biden administration and be centralized within the White House.
background: Doctor. Fredericks served in the Air Force for decades.
one in february speech, Doctor. Fredericks, who retired from the Army in June, reflected on his 37-year career in the Air Force and shared a few things about himself. His father served in the Navy at the end of World War II, and his mother was a Hungarian freedom fighter whose parents were killed by the Russians. His wife was an army doctor when they met.
He also reflected on the military’s role in fighting COVID-19, an effort that has included helping develop and distribute vaccines and providing medical aid to struggling hospitals. “While we collectively struggled to deal with that pandemic, the military health system stepped forward to help our civilian partners,” he said.
what will happen next: The focus will be on the preparations in the job.
Doctor. Frederick’s new position gives him the authority to oversee domestic biosecurity preparedness. They will need to work on the development of next-generation vaccines, ensure adequate supplies in strategic national stockpiles, and increase surveillance to monitor for new biological threats.
They will also have to work with Congress to secure funding for preparedness efforts. Lawmakers created the new White House office as part of a government spending package enacted late last year.
“When President Biden came into office, we inherited a generation-long public health and economic crisis, but we had no plan to get us out of it,” Mr. Zients said in a statement. “This office – under the strong and capable leadership of Major General Fredericks – will take the lead in ensuring that this does not happen again.”