The role for the nation’s top doctor was filled by the Senate Tuesday, after President Biden’s nominee, Vivek Murthy, was confirmed as the U.S. Surgeon General.
During Senate testimony late last month, he promised to use his role to turn the coronavirus pandemic around – a subject not only of national importance but one that has personally affected Murthy, who has lost several family members to the deadly virus.
“This is a moment of tremendous suffering for our nation. More than half a million people have lost their lives to COVID-19, including beloved members of my own family,” he told lawmakers.
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Murthy had advanced through the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor 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 the “Nation’s Doctor.”
As surgeon general, he will play a critical role in shaping the public message surrounding the virus, which has infected more than 29.8 million in the U.S. and killed over 543,000 Americans.
“If confirmed as surgeon general, my highest priority will be to help end this pandemic, work I’ve been doing over the past year with state and local officials, 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 2014-2017. He also advised Biden on the coronavirus while on the campaign trail.
His nomination raised eyebrows after reports surfaced which showed Murthy made more than $2.5 million during the pandemic from advising companies like Netflix, Carnival Cruise Line and Airbnb on their coronavirus response, first reported the Washington Post.
But during his nomination hearing, he said his previous experience in consulting on the COVID-19 response, makes him an asset to the role.
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“I have seen first-hand the importance of providing clear, science-based guidance to Americans on how to protect themselves and others. And I know how urgent it is that we communicate clearly about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and get them to people as quickly as possible, particularly those in underserved rural communities and communities of color,” he told lawmakers.
“The most important job of a doctor is to help patients heal. And if confirmed, that will be my mission as Surgeon General – to do whatever I can to help heal our communities and our nation,” he added.