Optum CEO Andrew Witty will take a leave of absence from the company to co-lead efforts at the World Health Organization to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, UnitedHealth Group announced Wednesday.
UnitedHealth said Witty, who was recently named president of UnitedHealth in addition to his role at the health services arm Optum, will begin his position with the WHO on April 20 and return to company at the end of the year. UnitedHealth CEO David Wichmann will oversee Optum in the meantime.
Witty was CEO London-based pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline from 2008 to 2017, where he led the drug maker to shift its focus away from pharmaceuticals toward consumer healthcare and vaccines.
"I am deeply honored to help lead this mission to seek a COVID-19 vaccine and am confident the people of Optum will remain relentless in their work to help their customers, communities and each other each day," Witty said in the news release.