Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar submitted his resignation in a letter to President Trump on January 12, citing the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol last week, NBC reported.
Azar’s resignation will take effect on January 20, the same day that Joe Biden will be sworn in as president. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic early in 2020, Azar has been involved in the Trump administration’s response as a member of the White House coronavirus task force. Azar has also overseen Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine development program.
A number of officials, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, resigned from the administration following last week’s riot at the Capitol. President Trump incited a mob of his supporters to amass at the Capitol while Congress certified the results of the election, and the mob subsequently breached the building, forcing lawmakers to evacuate. Rioters injured dozens of police officers, including one who later died of his injuries.
“The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our Democracy and the tradition of peaceful transitions of power that the United States of America first brought to the world,” Azar wrote to Trump in the letter.
However, Azar continued, “With the pandemic raging, the continued need to deliver vaccines and therapeutics to the American people, and the imperative of ensuring a smooth transition to the Biden Administration, I have determined that it is in the best interest of the people we serve to remain as Secretary until the end of the term.”
Operation Warp Speed helped facilitate the development of coronavirus vaccines in an unprecedented nine months. However, the U.S. distribution of vaccines has been slower than anticipated.