Infectious diseases physician-turned-Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall has been named in Time Magazine’s list of “Next 100 Most Influential People in the World”.
In the American new magazine’s second annual list, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern penned a glowing piece about her new Parliament colleague. Time Magazine profiles are often written by Time 100 alumni.
"In 2020, the world discovered a new set of heroes: people who have committed their lives to understanding infectious diseases, whose expertise in the throes of the pandemic became lifesaving,” Ardern wrote.
“Dr Ayesha Verrall is one such person. She has spent her career seeking to stop the spread of infectious diseases, and in a moment of global crisis, she used her knowledge to advocate a science-based approach to tackling Covid-19 and improving contact tracing that has helped save lives in New Zealand, especially among those most vulnerable.
“Ayesha has always understood, and seen firsthand, the link between infectious disease and inequality. That makes health care political, and that made Ayesha political too.”
It was that “wisdom”, Ardern wrote, that made her decide to ask Verrall to be part of her Cabinet.
“A compassionate expert, she is the kind of leader the world needs in this moment, and for many years to come.”
Verrall is also the Minister for Seniors and Minister for Food Safety, as well as serving as Associate Minister for Research, Science and Innovation.
Before becoming an MP last year, Verrall was tasked with auditing New Zealand’s Covid-19 contact tracing system.
Its recommendations included expanding the country’s contact tracing capability and rapidly completing the Covid Tracer app.
Poet Amanda Gorman, who performed at Joe Biden’s inauguration, Queen's Gambit actor Anya Taylor-Joy and popstar Dua Lipa were also included in the Next 100 list.
The list recognises emerging leaders in entertainment, health, politics, business and more, and is an extension of the magazine’s Time 100 most influential people list.