Dr. Neil Vora, currently the director of Disease Control Infomatics Data Outbreak and Response at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been appointed as New York City’s Director of Tracing, announced Mayor Bill de Blasio at his May 12, 2020 press briefing.
Outlining the expansion of his COVID-19 “Test and Trace Corps” Mayor de Blasio gave the details about new physicians and other experts he is deputing to expand it. “We welcome him (Dr. Neil Vora) as our new Director of Tracing,” the Mayor announced.
(A 2018 article on the University of Southern California website described Dr. Vora as a “Disease Detective,” and a “Globetrotting Doctor.” because of his travels to West Africa and work on countering Ebola and other infectious diseases.)
The Mayor also announced the appointment of Dr. Amanda Johnson as Director of Isolation, with whom Dr. Vora will be working closely. Among the other new recruits, the Mayor mentioned Grace Bonilla as director of the Equity and Racial Inclusion Task Force.
“We are going to need to have the most extensive ability to trace people around the city” who have been exposed to the coronavirus, the Mayor said.
Dr. Vora represents the kind of leaders “who are really good, really talented, and can handle the sheer intensity of what we are going to do,” people who can “really put together a big logistical and operational challenge” but who also have a “compassionate” approach, the Mayor said.
“People with big hearts and big appreciation for what it takes to serve this city,” the Mayor added.
He described the past experience of Dr. Vora had, dwelling on the Indian-American’s involvement in countering the Ebola virus at CDC.
Dr. Vora’s experience in tracing infectious diseases included actually visiting the caves of West Africa to study the bats that were the source of Ebola.
“Talk about a hands-on, can-do spirit,” the Mayor noted.
Mayor de Blasio said his administration is actively recruiting hundreds of contact tracers and encouraged those in the Public Health field to apply for the job, details of which are available at nyc.gov.
The first batch of more than 500 contact tracers are being trained by Johns Hopkins University, the Mayor said, adding that the City hopes to have 2,500 Contact Tracers in the field by June. The City is looking to hire 1,000 people by the end of May, according to an earlier announcement on NYC.gov.
Dr. Vora has been with the CDC since 2012. Prior to that, he was a resident physician at Columbia University from 2009 to 2012.
He got his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California with a double major in Biology and International Relations with a minor in Philosophy, according to his profile on the Columbia University website. He received his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco, during which he studied malaria and HIV in Uganda.
At the CDC, Dr. Vora was an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, working on emerging infectious diseases, particularly those which had animal origins. His work is published in highly reputed medical journals.