Biden covid-19 adviser leaving administration

WASHINGTON -- David Kessler, who helped steer President Joe Biden's covid-19 policy, will leave the administration -- as the government's response continues to gear down amid a waning pandemic and a funding crunch.

Kessler will depart the government next week, people familiar with the matter said. He plans to return to the University of California, San Francisco, from which he's been on leave, after advising Biden since before his inauguration.

"He understands all the issues very well and he's got a lot of experience, It's been a pure pleasure working with him," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, who retired at the end of last year as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Biden has declared that the pandemic is "over" and Congress has stopped providing emergency funding for tests, treatments, vaccines and other public health measures.

Kessler led much of the early efforts to secure treatments and vaccines as the U.S. heightened its inoculation strategy. The U.S. has administered more than 665 million doses domestically, nearly all during Biden's tenure, and has donated and shipped another 682 million abroad.

"Whether he was leading our effort to develop and distribute safe and effective covid-19 vaccines and treatments, or sharing his perspective during daily strategy sessions and data deliberations, Dr. Kessler's contributions to our covid-19 response have helped save lives," Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Many of the chief architects of Biden's initial covid-19 team have now moved on from those roles, with Kessler joining Fauci as well as others like Jeff Zients, who served as covid czar. Other key figures on his team have indicated they plan on staying on, including Becerra and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky.