The White House chooses a retired general to lead its new pandemic response office

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has tapped retired Major General Paul Friedrichs to lead the White House’s new Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy, the White House announced Friday.

Friedrichs will take office on August 7. He currently sits on the National Security Council, responsible for global health security and biodefense.

Previously, Friedrichs was a staff surgeon at the Pentagon, where he also advised the Defense Department’s Covid-19 task force, the White House said.

The new office will work to prepare for and respond to biological threats or pathogens that can lead to a pandemic, including coordinating technology efforts and working with the Department of Health and Human Services on vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 and other threats, according to a White House statement. The office will take over tasks previously handled by the Covid-19 response team and continue to deal with threats from Covid, polio, respiratory syncytial virus and other potential outbreaks, the White House said. The office will provide Congress with a readiness report every five years.

The White House Covid Response Team was scheduled to halt work in May, according to a White House administration official, around the time the pandemic-related public health emergency ended.

“The bold actions and progress made by the Biden administration on COVID-19 have positioned us to emerge from the emergency phase of the response, including the termination of the COVID-19 Response Team in May,” the official said in a March statement.

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