When COVID-19 first began to spread throughout the U.S., the federal government was quickly criticized for lack of access to testing. Since then, the U.S. has dramatically ramped up testing, with hundreds of thousands done daily. Some experts give credit to the man who they’ve dubbed the “Coronavirus Czar,” Admiral Brett Giroir.
Brett Giroir is the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He’s a four-star general and a pediatrician. According to the HHS website, Giroir leads the development of HHS-wide public health policy recommendations. He also oversees several of the department’s core public health offices, like the Office of the Surgeon General.
Giroir has led several national initiatives, including a plan to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. and the fight against the opioid crisis.
Most recently, HHS Secretary Alex Azar picked Giroir to coordinate national COVID-19 diagnostic testing efforts in March. According to the HHS, Giroir is responsible for all diagnostic testing activities, including “the customer and patient experience, specimen collection, logistics, testing, result return, and supply chain.”
In mid-June, he left the position as the Trump administration’s testing czar and returned to his original job at HHS. However, he is still widely considered to be the HHS COVID-19 testing czar.
Giroir recently made headlines on Sept. 20, when he broke away from the Trump administration and told CNN that a COVID-19 vaccine would not be widely available until mid-2021.
“In front of the Senate, Dr. [Robert] Redfield and I both said that a vaccine that would be widely available in hundreds of millions of doses would not likely happen until mid-2021,” Giroir said, referring to the CDC director. “That is a fact.”
He did agree with Trump that as many as a hundred million doses could be ready by the end of the year.
“President Trump said that some projections, according to manufacturing if things go as planned, could have as many as 100 million doses by the end of this year,” Giroir said. “That is correct.”
Giroir also doubled down on the importance of masks and other preventative ways to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We have new treatments that if you do get ill, you are much more likely to have a great outcome,” Giroir said. “But right now, prevention is certainly the most important step—wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, especially indoor spaces.”