The White House announced Friday that it is creating the Office of Pandemic Preparedness, charged with “leading, coordinating, and implementing actions related to preparedness for, and response to, known and unknown biological threats or pathogens that could lead to a pandemic or to significant public health-related disruptions in the United States.”
Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Fredrichs will serve as the office’s first director and is taking over the duties of the pandemic era’s COVID-19 Response Team and mpox team to develop policies and coordinate priorities for preparing and responding to future pandemic threats, the White House said in a press release announcing the office’s launch.
According to the administration, Fredrichs will begin leading the office Aug. 7.
“Friedrichs’ unparalleled experience makes him the right person to lead this office,” the release said. “He is currently Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense at the National Security Council.”
The White House said Fredrichs previously served as a staff surgeon at the Pentagon, coordinating health services issues and advising the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff on health-related matters.
“The Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy will coordinate the administration’s domestic response to public health threats that have pandemic potential or may cause significant disruption and strengthen domestic pandemic preparedness,” the release said.
The COVID-19 Response Team was formed when Joe Biden took office in January 2021 as an extension of the task force established by former President Donald Trump in the early days of the pandemic and led by then-Vice President Mike Pence and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, The Washington Post reported in May.
The report said that Fauci stayed on as the lead for Biden’s team, which disbanded in May at the end of the pandemic emergency.
The new office will continue that work focusing on developing, making, and obtaining the “next generation of medical countermeasures” for COVID-19 and other health threats, the White House said.
The release said Fredrichs worked closely throughout his career with federal, state, tribe, and local partners, as well as industry and academic counterparts on health issues, including overseeing the global patient evacuation system for the Department of Defense.
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