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WASHINGTON — President Biden is replacing Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients with Ashish Jha, the White House announced Thursday morning.

Jha, who currently serves as the dean of the Brown School of Public Health, emerged during the height of the pandemic as one of the nation’s leading voices on Covid-19, with a steady stream of appearances on the subject across almost all of network television.

Covid-19 coordinator is one of the most powerful roles in the federal government’s Covid-19 response. In this role, Jha will have sweeping power to set the nation’s policies for combating Covid-19 alongside other top officials like the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Anthony Fauci and Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He will also likely play a central role in communicating that strategy to the American people.

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“Jha is one of the leading public health experts in America, and a well known figure to many Americans from his wise and calming public presence,” Biden said in a statement, calling him “the perfect person for the job.”

Zients, a former Obama administration official, served as Biden’s Covid-19 coordinator since Biden’s inauguration in January 2021. In his role, he oversaw the distribution of the initial Covid-19 vaccines, booster shots, and Biden’s distribution of rapid tests and therapies. He was also the administration’s main liaison on the issue with Congress, which is even now in the midst of a debate about whether and how to pay for more Covid vaccines, therapies and other parts of the future response.

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“Jeff spent the last 14 months working tirelessly to help combat COVID,” Biden wrote in a statement announcing the move. “He is a man of service and an expert manager. I will miss his counsel and I’m grateful for his service.”

In his statement, Biden tied the personnel change to the nation’s progress toward “moving back to more normal routines.”

Jha’s appointment begins on April 5, according to a Brown University press release. He will take a “short-term leave” from the university to serve in the role.

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