Vivek Murthy Expected to Be in Biden’s COVID Task Force: Who’s He?

Murthy emerged as one of Biden’s top advisors on public health and COVID-19 during his presidential campaign.

South Asians
3 min read

As the US and much of the world rejoiced the projected results of the US Presidential elections, President-elect Joe Biden geared up to get to work.

During his victory speech at Wilmington in Delaware on Saturday, 8 November, Biden spoke of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic head-on and creating a special COVID task force for the same.

“Our work begins with getting COVID under control. On Monday, I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisors to help take the Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan and convert it into an action blueprint that starts on January 20th, 2021.”
President-Elect Joe Biden

Biden is expected to name three co-chairs of his 12-member panel, and Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general, and key Biden advisor is expected to take a major public role, reported The New York Times.

During Biden's presidential campaign period, Murthy emerged as one of his top advisors on public health and coronavirus issues.

With the COVID-19 pandemic devastating the US, having infected close to 10 million people and claiming 2,37,572 lives till 9 November, he is poised to play a vital role in Biden's administration as his key advisor.

The other two members are expected to be David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale University professor.

Who is Dr Murthy & What is His Special Connection to Karnataka?

The election of Joe Biden as the US president-elect has delighted the folks of Hallagere, a nondescript village in Karnataka's Mandya district, as his key COVID-19 advisor Vivek Murthy's family hails from there, an official said on Sunday, reported IANS.

“Vivek Murthy’s family, including his father HN Lakshminarasimha Murthy and mother Myetraie, belong to Hallagere. Vivek’s parents migrated to Britain and subsequently to the US, where his father is also a medical doctor at Miami in Florida state.”
Mandya district official to IANS

Mandya is about 100 kms southwest of Bengaluru on the way to Mysuru in the southern state.

The news of Biden’s election was greeted with joy at Hallagere, since the prospects of Vivek, 43, re-joining the US government brightened, as he was the 19th US surgeon-general in the Barack Obama administration.

“As Vice-President, Biden administered the oath of office to Vivek on 15 December 2014. He resigned on 21 April 2017 after Donald Trump took over as president in January 2016.”
Mandya district official

With the rank of vice admiral, Vivek was the highest-ranking official of Indian-origin in Obama's second term and played an active role in formulating and implementing the Obamacare Affordable Care Act.

Murthy was also the youngest ever to hold the office at the age of 37.

According to local media reports, Vivek's grandfather HT Narayana Shetty was a director in MysoreSugar company at Mandya.

Vivek, however, was born at Huddersfield town in Britain's West Yorkshire where his father was working after he migrated from Mysuru decades ago.

The Murthys reportedly donated computers to state-run schools at Hallagere and conducted health camps during their visits to the village through the family's Society of Children of Planet Earth Foundation.


‘Joe is the Kind of Guy I Would Love to Bring Home for Dinner With Mom and Dad’

Biden is the kind of guy he would like to invite home for dinner, said Murthy at a fundraiser organised by Indian-Americans in September 2020 which was addressed by Biden, reported The Economic Times.

“Joe Biden is the kind of guy I would love to bring home to have dinner with my mom and dad. He’s authentic. He’s real. And he says what he thinks and that’s something I really love about him… He says what’s on his mind. He’s honest and true.”
Vivek Murthy

Murthy added that some homemade ‘Masala Dosa' would be served. He also spoke of Biden’s support for immigrants and communities like Indian-Americans at another fundraiser.

In May, Vivek was appointed as co-chair to the Healthcare Task Force along with Indian-origin Pramila Jayapal, who also won in Tuesday’s election to the House of Representatives as a Democrat from Washington's 7th congressional district, defeating Republican Craig Keller.

Even before Biden assumes office in January 2021, Murthy is tipped to join his COVID task force on Monday, 9 September, to draw an action plan for tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

(With inputs from IANS, The Economic Times and The New York Times.)

(The article was first published on FIT.)

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