Professor Paul Kelly will lead the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across the country after being officially appointed to the role of Australian chief medical officer.
In a statement on Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Kelly has been “intimately involved” in the national COVID-19 response, as well as the health response to the 2019–20 bushfires.
“His appointment to the permanent role of CMO ensures Australia remains in very capable hands. He was successful after a rigorous and highly competitive selection process conducted by the Department of Health,” Morrison said.
“He has become a familiar and reassuring presence on our TV screens. His in-depth knowledge of this virus and its transmission has been invaluable.”
Kelly has been acting in the role of CMO since June, when his predecessor Professor Brendan Murphy was promoted to secretary of the Department of Health.
Prior to that, Kelly was deputy CMO — a position he took on in January. Other past roles include chief medical adviser within Health, chief health officer for the ACT, and deputy director general of population health in the ACT government Health Directorate.
He has also served as director of the masters of applied epidemiology program at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, and principle research fellow with the Menzies School of Health Research and the Centre for Disease Control in the Northern Territory Department of Health.
Kelly is a public health physician and epidemiologist with more than 30 years’ research experience, and has extensive knowledge in infectious disease epidemiology, particularly influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Earlier this year, he told The Mandarin that one extraordinary aspect of Australia’s pandemic experience has been the amount of “airtime” that scientists, medical practitioners, and nursing specialists have received.
“I think it has been fantastic that those voices have been heard,” he said.
“I would say behind the scenes as well, that one of the extraordinary components of this for me throughout my whole career, I’ve never seen a time when politicians have been so receptive to the scientific message, and I think that’s been an extraordinarily good part of the Australian response.”