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Coronavirus live news: WHO says 'don't panic', all will get Covid vaccine; new US CDC director sworn

World news | The Guardian

New US CDC director sworn in; ‘No one needs to panic, because you’re going to get a vaccine’, says WHO; Biden pledge to vaccinate 100m Americans in 100 days faces test

In the US, a new CDC director is arriving to a mammoth task: reasserting the agency while the pandemic is in its deadliest phase yet and the nation’s largest-ever vaccination campaign is wracked by confusion and delays, AP reports.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, 51, an infectious-diseases specialist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, was sworn in Wednesday as the head of the CDC.

While the agency has retained some of its top scientific talent, public health experts say, it has a long list of needs, including new protection from political influence, a comprehensive review of its missteps during the pandemic and more money to beef up basic functions like disease tracking and genetic analysis.

Walensky has said one of her top priorities will be to improve the CDC’s communications with the public to rebuild trust. Inside the agency, she wants to raise morale, in large part by restoring the primacy of science and setting politics to the side.

The speed at which she is assuming the job is unusual. In the past, the position has generally been unfilled until a new secretary of health and human services is confirmed, and that official names a CDC director. But this time, the Biden transition team named Walensky in advance, so she could take the agency’s reins even before her boss is in place.

Walensky, an HIV researcher, has not worked at the CDC or at a state or local health department. But she has emerged as a prominent voice on the pandemic, sometimes criticising certain aspects of the state and national response. Her targets have included the uneven transmission-prevention measures that were in place last summer and a prominent Trump adviser’s endorsement of a “herd immunity” approach that would let the virus run free.

Nobody should panic about getting access to a Covid-19 vaccine because everyone who wants one will get one, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

AFP: The WHO’s assistant director-general Mariangela Simao said the UN health agency was working towards ensuring access to coronavirus jabs all around the world.

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January 20th 2021, 7:08 pm
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