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WASHINGTON — David Kessler is not the obvious choice for any role in the Biden administration, let alone a high-profile one like co-chair of the Covid-19 task force.

The hard-charging former Food and Drug Administration commissioner has been out of government for more than 23 years. He was ousted from his last job, as head of the medical school at the University of California, San Francisco. Even his closest colleagues admit he lacks the collegiality and interpersonal skills that animate so much of Washington.


But Kessler, 69, has emerged as one of President-elect Biden’s most trusted advisers on the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to his role as co-chair of the task force, he’s also the medical adviser for Biden’s inaugural committee. And he sits atop a very short list of contenders for FDA commissioner, along with Joshua Sharfstein, an outspoken public health professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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