The role of the country’s top doctor was taken by the Senate on Tuesday, after President Biden’s candidate Vivek Murthy was confirmed as U.S. surgeon general.
In testimony in the Senate late last month, he vowed to use his role to reverse the coronavirus pandemic – a topic not only of national importance, but which has personally affected Murthy, who has lost several limbs. of his family because of the deadly virus.
“This is a time of tremendous suffering for our nation. Over half a million people have lost their lives due to COVID-19, including beloved members of my own family,” he said. he told lawmakers.
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Murthy had advanced through the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee on a bipartisan basis in a 16-6 vote last week.
Five Republicans, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Roger Marshall of Kansas, crossed party lines to support Murthy’s nomination as ” doctor of the nation ”.
As surgeon general, he will play a pivotal role in shaping the public message surrounding the virus, which has infected more than 29.8 million people in the United States and killed more than 543,000 Americans.
“If I am confirmed as the Surgeon General, my highest priority will be to help end this pandemic, work that I have done over the past year with national and local authorities, schools and universities, businesses, health care providers and others, ”Murthy said. in his February testimony.
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Murthy is no stranger to the high-profile role, as he was confirmed as Surgeon General under President Obama and served from 2014 to 2017. He also advised Biden on the coronavirus during the election campaign.
His appointment raised eyebrows after reports were published showing Murthy made more than $ 2.5 million during the pandemic advising companies like Netflix, Carnival Cruise Line and Airbnb on their response to the coronavirus, first reported the Washington Post.
But during his appointment hearing, he said his previous experience in COVID-19 response advice made him an asset for the job.
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“I saw first-hand the importance of providing Americans with clear, science-based advice on how to protect themselves and others. And I know how urgent it is to clearly communicate the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and get them to people. as quickly as possible, especially those in underserved rural communities and communities of color, ”he told lawmakers.
“The most important job of a physician is to help patients heal. And if that is confirmed, that will be my mission as a general surgeon – to do whatever I can to help heal our communities and our nation. “, he added.
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