AIDS Expert Tasked With Coronavirus Response 

U.S. global AIDS coordinator Debbie Birx was named as Vice President Pence's point person on the coronavirus response on Thursday. Riccardo Savi/Getty Images

As the Coronavirus continues to dominate headlines, a prominent HIV/AIDS specialist has been tapped to fight the spread of the disease.

On Thursday the White House named Debbie Birx, a State Department ambassador-at-large, to lead the Coronavirus response. Birx is a highly regarded HIV/AIDS expert who began her public service career in 1985 as a military-trained clinician in immunology, focusing on HIV/AIDS vaccine research for the Department of Defense.

As of Feb. 28 there have been 83,861 reported cases of Coronavirus and 2,867 deaths worldwide. The outbreak started at a large animal and seafood market in Wuhan, China. On Jan. 31, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency to assist the response to the virus, technically known as COVID-19. 

Last week, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation issued a statement calling on the United Nations to convene an emergency security council meeting to declare to outbreak a pandemic. 

"The UN Security Council must bring to bear its resources and political weight to mount a response commensurate with the unprecedented scale of danger facing global public health security and the global economy," said Michael Weinstein, AHF President, in a press release. "Many countries are entirely unprepared in terms of healthcare capacity, infrastructure, and supplies to fight a highly contagious and potentially protracted outbreak – and as a UN body charged with protecting global peace and security, it is time for the UNSC to step in."

There have been reports of some countries using AIDS medications to treat COVID-19. Masks are becoming a more common site, global events have been canceled and the stock market took a big hit this week as fears over the virus mounted. On Friday the World Health Organization warned the risk and spread of COVID-19 is “very high at global level.”

“We are ready to adapt and do what we have to as the disease spreads, if it spreads,” President Donald Trump said on Thursday. 


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