White House COVID response coordinator resigns as Biden warns of new variants

"We must fight the virus overseas, prepare for new waves, and new variants – all of which can be coming," President Joe Biden said.

Published: March 17, 2022 4:27pm

Updated: March 17, 2022 5:06pm

White House COVID-⁠19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients announced his departure Thursday after more than a year with the Biden administration.

"I called on Jeff Zients to lead my Administration's COVID-19 response because there is no one better at delivering results than Jeff," President Joe Biden said in a statement.

After touting the increase in COVID vaccination rates under Zients, Biden added, "Jeff spent the last 14 months working tirelessly to help combat COVID. He is a man of service and an expert manager. I will miss his counsel and I’m grateful for his service."

The U.S. struggled to respond to the Delta and Omicron variants over the past year as some hospitals reached capacity and COVID tests were in short supply over the holiday season.

"Thanks to all the progress we've made, Americans are safely moving back to more normal routines, using the effective new tools we have to enable us to reduce severe COVID cases and make workplaces and schools safer," Biden's statement continued.

"But our work in combatting COVID is far from done," he added, asserting the need to administer more vaccines and boosters;  to provide tests, treatments, and masks; and to secure approval for a vaccine "for the youngest children."

"We must fight the virus overseas, prepare for new waves, and new variants – all of which can be coming," Biden said. "And we must work with Congress to fund these vital steps, as time is running out to stay ahead of the virus."

Biden also announced that Dr. Ashish Jha would succeed Zients.

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