Rochelle Walensky

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Person.png Rochelle Walensky   Campfire WikiRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Rochelle Walensky.png
Born5 April 1969
Peabody, Massachusetts
Alma materWashington University, Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University
SpouseLoren Walensky

Employment.png CDC/Director

In office
20 January 2021 - Present
Preceded byRobert Redfield
Spoke about "impending doom" of COVID-19 in March 2021

Rochelle Walensky is an American public health official based in Washington, D.C. She serves as the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).[1]

According to her profile on the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Prevention Policy Modeling Lab website, Walensky has been “internationally recognized for motivating US policy toward the promotion of routine HIV screening and for her work on effective and efficient strategies of HIV care in South Africa.”[2]

She is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and the Association of American Physicians (AAP), and has served as a member of the United States Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents.[3]


From 2014-2015, Walensky served as chair of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council, a team within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) tasked with advising high-level officials on “the planning, coordination, and evaluation of research and other HIV/AIDS activities conducted or supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH),” including the Director of the Office of AIDS Research (OAR), the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Assistant Secretary for Health, and the Director of NIH.[4]

Walensky was employed at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School prior to and during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Walensky was among the first signatories to the John Snow Memorandum, published in the Lancet in October 2020 as a rebuttal to the Great Barrington Declaration.[5]

On November 19, 2020, the journal Health Affairs published a study led by Walensky titled Clinical Outcomes Of A COVID-19 Vaccine: Implementation Over Efficacy.[6] The paper argued that “factors related to implementation will contribute more to the success of vaccination programs than a vaccine’s efficacy as determined in clinical trials.” Specifically, Walensky and her team warned that things like “manufacturing or deployment delays, significant vaccine hesitancy, or greater epidemic severity” would all make the COVID-19 vaccines work less well, and that therefore, health officials should “invest greater financial resources and attention to vaccine production and distribution programs, to redouble efforts to promote public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines, and to encourage continued adherence to other mitigation approaches, even after a vaccine becomes available.”

Walensky was nominated to the directorship of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by President-elect Joe Biden on December 7, 2020, replacing outgoing director Robert Redfield.[7]

Walensky was criticised after speaking in March 2021 of her feelings of "impending doom" about COVID-19.[8]

On July 16, 2021, Walensky declared that the United States was experiencing a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” predicting increasing rates of severe illness and death among those who had not been “fully vaccinated” with the various COVID-19 vaccines.[9]

On May 5, 2023, Walensky announced her resignation as CDC Director, citing “the nation's progress in coping with COVID-19.”[10] The announcement coincided with the World Health Organization’s declaration that the “global health emergency” related to COVID-19 had ended.[11] Employees at the CDC were reportedly unaware of the news of Walensky’s departure until they heard the announcement themselves. She is set to remain in office until June 30.

Conflicts of Interest

Walensky's husband, Loren Walensky, co-founded Lytica Therapeutics in October 2019. The company received a grant for up to $16.9 million from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in February 2020, for a project to “develop antibacterial peptides with broad activity against multidrug-resistant bacteria.”[12] [13]

The specific funding program in question, the Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X), is a global non-profit partnership accelerating antibacterial products to address drug-resistant bacteria. If Walensky’s Lytica Therapeutics is tasked with developing new antibiotic products to treat lung infections (like pneumonia), it stands to reason that the use of the many existing antibiotics and repurposed drugs like ivermectin would stand in the way of them fulfilling their CARB-X grant obligations.[14] This is particularly notable given the apparent role of bacterial pneumonia in a significant portion of deaths attributed to COVID-19 during Walensky's term as CDC director.[15]


A Quote by Rochelle Walensky

Face mask“Masks can help reduce your chance of #COVID19 infection by more than 80%.”5 November 2021


  1. New CDC Director. (2021, January 20). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Rochelle Walensky. Prevention Policy Modeling Lab. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from
  3. Rochelle Walensky. (2020, November 7). The Forum at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.
  4. Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved May 11, 2023, from
  5. John Snow Memorandum. John Snow Memorandum. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from
  6. Paltiel, A. D., Schwartz, J. L., Zheng, A., & Walensky, R. P. (2020). Clinical outcomes of a COVID-19 vaccine: implementation over efficacy. Health Affairs, 40(1), 10.1377/hlthaff.
  7. Booker, B. (2020, December 7). Biden Names Massachusetts Doctor To Lead CDC. NPR.
  9. Anthes, E., & Petri, A. (2021, July 16). C.D.C. Director Warns of a “Pandemic of the Unvaccinated.” The New York Times.
  10. Chappell, B. (2023, May 5). Rochelle Walensky, who led the CDC during the pandemic, resigns. NPR.
  11. Savin, J. (2023, May 5). COVID-19 is officially “over”, according to the World Health Organisation. Yahoo Life; Cosmopolitan.
  12. Hounsell, S. (2021, August 6). EXCLUSIVE: CDC Director Walensky’s Husband Received $5 Million in HHS Grants - and That’s Just the Start of It. RedState.
  13. Robinson, J., & Finnegan, A. (2020, April 18). CARB-X funds Lytica Therapeutics to develop antibacterial peptides to treat drug-resistant infections in the lungs and other parts of the body. CARB-X.
  14. Sturgess, L. (2023, May 12). Deer in the Headlights. Substack; Rounding the Earth.
  15. Paul, M. (2023, May 5). Secondary Bacterial Pneumonia Drove Many COVID-19 Deaths. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.