Alex Azar, Secretary for Health and Human Services, at the White House in Washington, DC on August 23, 2020.
Pete Marovich | Getty Images
Minister of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is stepping down on Jan. 20, NBC News reported on Friday.
In his January 12 resignation letter, Azar shot a farewell shot at President Donald Trump and mentioned last week's US Capitol riot that saw a violent crowd of Trump's supporters break through the building, injuring dozens of police officers and causing five deaths.
Azar wrote that "post-election actions and rhetoric, especially last week, threatened to tarnish the legacy of this government". "The attacks on the Capitol were an attack on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful power transfers that the United States first brought into the world."
Azar's resignation came after U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and several other Trump administration officials resigned after the president was accused of inciting the violence by instructing protesters to go to the U.S. Capitol, where the legislature set the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. The mob descended on the Capitol shortly after the trial began on Wednesday to count the electoral college votes and confirm Biden's election.
In a tweet last week, Azar condemned the riot, saying he was "disgusted".
"Physical violence and the desecration of this sacred symbol of our democracy must come to an end. People must immediately and peacefully disperse," he said on Twitter.
As a result of the change in administration, please accept my resignation as Minister of Health and Human Services (HHS) effective January 20, 2021 at 12:00 noon, "wrote Azar in his departure letter to Trump." It has been the greatest professional privilege and honor of my life to serve as secretary, and I thank you for the opportunity to serve the people of America. "
Trump selected Azar, a former pharma executive, to head the U.S. agency in late 2017, replacing Trump's first HHS chief, Dr. Tom Price. His department is responsible for overseeing the extensive Medicare and Medicaid programs, US public health, medical research, and food and drug safety. He was an integral part of the government's Covid-19 response.
Prior to joining, Azar was General Counsel for the division from 2001 to 2005 and Assistant Secretary from 2005 to 2007. From 2012 to 2017 he was President of Lilly USA, the American arm of drug giant Eli Lilly.
Azar's resignation comes amid a one-off pandemic. The US currently has more than 23.33 million cases of coronavirus and has by far the most virus deaths with more than 389,000 confirmed deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Federal and state officials are trying to distribute vaccines to prevent Covid-19 and end the pandemic.
Azar highlighted his efforts to lead his department during an "unprecedented pandemic".
"Because of my leadership in pandemic flu preparedness during my previous tenure at HHS and subsequent experience in the private sector, we have formed a historic partnership with the Department of Defense, our scientists, and the pharmaceutical industry to bring therapeutics and vaccines to Americans Record time, "wrote Azar. "Operation Warp Speed has achieved in nine months what many doubted it would be possible in a year and a half or more. From that date, two safe and effective vaccines will be given to millions of Americans, with more vaccines likely to be approved shortly We have two safe and effective therapeutics that can help keep the vulnerable out of our hospitals, with more therapies on the way, an effort recognized by the New York Times as "remarkably effective" and "amazingly impressive" by the Washington Post "Characterizes." As we mourn every life lost, our early, aggressive, and extensive efforts saved hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of American lives. "
President-elect Joe Biden plans to work with FEMA and the National Guard to establish coronavirus vaccination clinics in the United States. This emerges from new details of his vaccination schedule for Covid-19 released on Friday by his transition team.
Read Azar's full resignation letter below:
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