WASHINGTON – The White House on Friday launched its pandemic preparedness office, half a year after Congress instructed the administration to set up a new arm in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy is a now-permanent installment in Washington and will first be led by retired Major General Paul Friedrichs, a longtime biosecurity official. It comes roughly two months after the Covid-19 public health emergency ended and weeks after Covid-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha stepped down, reflecting an overall wind-down of the administration’s coronavirus efforts.
The creation of a pandemic preparedness office was one of the last major bipartisan pushes for Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) before retiring. He and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) pressed congressional leadership to include the office’s establishment and other pandemic provisions in a spending package passed last December.