SVP and chief comms officer, CVS Health
For the full profile on Kym White, click here.
In September, Johnson & Johnson said it was starting large-scale Phase 3 trials of its potential coronavirus vaccine. J&J wasn’t the first to reach that benchmark, but it did have an advantage over rivals: Its potential treatment, made with the same technology as its experimental Ebola vaccine, requires only one dose.
As leader of the world’s largest drug company, Gorsky is also taking responsibility for making sure the public can trust that a coronavirus treatment has been approved without political interference. Amid growing fears that the Trump administration would rush a vaccine to the public, Gorsky was one of the handful of pharmaceutical executives who pledged that their companies would use only the highest ethical and scientific standards to verify the efficacy of a potential vaccine.
While many were surprised by the state of Ohio’s fast, proactive response to the arrival of COVID-19, those who know Dr. Amy Acton certainly weren’t.
Tapped as the director of the state’s Department of Health, she advised Governor Mike DeWine. In the process, she quickly became the trusted face of the crisis for people inside and outside Ohio, and even a star.
People bought bobbleheads and candles bearing her likeness as well as “Save Us, Dr. Acton” T-shirts. While other states were still scratching their heads, Acton and DeWine earned kudos for swiftly implementing prevention policies.
But as the political battles around COVID shutdowns intensified, there was also intense criticism — some of it anti-Semitic. Republicans, for their part, called her “Dr. Doom.”
She stepped down three months into the crisis and is now director of Kind Columbus, dedicated to spreading words and actions of kindness as a defining value.
As he alternately covered and commented upon the nation’s descent into pandemic devastation, Kaiser Family Foundation leader Drew Altman minced few words. “Our lamentable performance is not the product of a famously fragmented, market-driven healthcare system,” he wrote in an essay published in the weekly peer-reviewed medical journal The BMJ in mid-September. “No, the disappointing U.S. response to COVID-19 has been because of a failure of policy and leadership.”
It’s the kind of straightforwardness and honesty Altman’s peers have come to expect over the course of a lengthy career in the realm of public health. Prior to establishing the current-day foundation in the early 1990s, Altman served as commissioner of the Department of Human Services for the state of New Jersey. Before that, he worked in the Health Care Financing Administration during the Carter Administration.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, commonly known as Dr. Mona, has advocacy in her blood. Born in Sheffield, England, her parents were Iraqi scientists and dissidents who fled Saddam Hussein’s regime before eventually settling in Michigan. A pediatrician, public health advocate and professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Hanna-Attisha caused a public outcry when she exposed the Flint, Michigan, water crisis in 2015.
Because of the public health implications, she risked her career and published her findings before they had been scientifically peer reviewed. She founded the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, a partnership between Hurley Medical Center and Michigan State University, to mitigate the impact of the crisis on Flint children.
And when the COVID-19 outbreak began this year, Hanna-Attisha was at the forefront to explain how the virus was affecting the community in Flint. The well-respected doctor also described her own battle with COVID-19 after contracting the disease herself, one of the first high-profile doctors to discuss a personal battle.
As one of the most recognizable and respected faces in the medical community, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been addressing COVID-19 since the beginning. The neurosurgeon has used his platform to hold global town halls alongside journalist Anderson Cooper, answering questions from around the country and around the world. He also started the podcast Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction to help dispel the myths surrounding the virus.
And when it came time to reopen schools, Gupta released a video describing one of the toughest decisions he’s ever had to make as a father: whether to send his children to school or keep them at home. Ultimately, he followed the science and detailed why he was keeping his children home. While not everyone agreed with his choice, the heartfelt video summed up the discussions many parents were having and went viral, being picked up by multiple news networks and websites.