US Vaccine Diplomacy Czar Exits

The Biden administration’s global COVID-19 response coordinator Gayle Smith has left the role after eight months, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday, just as the world grapples with the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The detection of a new variant that may be more transmissible than other forms of the virus has triggered new travel restrictions, including by the United States, and spooked markets.

Smith, a former U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) coordinator during the Obama administration, was appointed in April to lead U.S. vaccine diplomacy efforts after President Joe Biden pledged to share vaccine doses with other countries to help limit COVID-19’s spread around the world.

The ONE Campaign, a global non-profit focused on poverty and public health where Smith is president and CEO, said at the time she was on a temporary assignment to the State Department, but no specific timeline was given for the role.

Smith was returning to the ONE Campaign and her role would be filled by acting coordinator Mary Beth Goodman, a member of the State Department’s COVID-19 team, Blinken said in a statement.

“Eight months after asking Gayle to join the team, the United States has donated more than 260 million vaccine doses to more than 110 countries and economies worldwide – well on our way to fulfilling President Biden’s commitment of 1.2 billion doses,” Blinken said.

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