Dr. Fauci, Health Officials Testify on COVID-19 Response & Reopening America
How do you feel about the outlook for the U.S. pandemic response based on the hearing?
by Countable | 5.12.20
What’s the story?
- The Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing Tuesday with several key members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force to discuss “safely getting back to work and back to school.”
- The hearing was the first ever remote hearing held by a Senate committee, with all four task force witnesses testifying from their homes and Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) chairing the hearing from home. Three of the task force members are in a modified quarantine due to their interaction with a White House staffer who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), although all of the task force members have tested negative so far; while Alexander is similarly in quarantine after being in contact with a staffer who tested positive, although Alexander hasn't tested positive.
- Here’s a look at some of the key quotes from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield, Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, and Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir, MD.
What they’re saying
- Dr. Fauci on reopening too quickly:
“My concern [is] that if some areas, city, states, or what have you, jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks."
- Admiral Giroir on testing capacity:
“We know that the testing needs will go up over May and June as we progressively open back up, and we will do our best to predict that... By September ― taking every aspect of development, authorization, manufacturing, and supply chain into consideration ― we project that our nation will be capable of performing at least 40 to 50 million tests per month if needed at that time. And if new technologies are authorized, like whole genome sequencing approaches, or any novel solutions uncovered by NIH’s new diagnostics initiative, that number will be much higher.”
- Dr. Fauci on a possible fall or winter outbreak:
“Right now, as you heard from Admiral Giroir with regard to testing and other elements that would be needed to respond, the projection is that by the time that we get to the end of the summer and early fall that we will have that in place… If we do not respond in an adequate way when the fall comes, given that it is without a doubt that there will be infections in the community, then we run the risk of having a resurgence. I would hope by that point in time in the fall that we have more than enough to respond adequately, but if we don’t there will be trouble.”
- Dr. Fauci on the potential for a vaccine:
“It’s definitely not a long shot… I would think that it’s more likely than not that we will. Because this is a virus that induces an immune response and people recover ― the overwhelming majority of people recover from this virus, although there is morbidity and mortality at a level in certain populations. The very fact that the body is capable of spontaneously clearing the virus tells me that, at least from a conceptual standpoint, we can stimulate the body with a vaccine that would induce a similar response. So although there is no guarantee I think it’s clearly much more likely than not that somewhere within that timeframe we will get a vaccine for this virus.”
- Dr. Hahn on vaccine production:
“This is an effort that started as a partnership with the vaccine developers and the NIH. One of the most important things has been the data transparency, the sharing of data both at the agency, NIH, and with the manufacturers, so we can understand what the capacities are, what the needs are from the supply chain, and how to actually share that so that if one manufacturer’s vaccine doesn’t move forward, we can use that manufacturer’s capacity for another manufacturer’s vaccine… It is somewhat complicated in that we may very well have hopefully five to seven different candidate vaccines that may need different supplies associated with them, but we have been upfront in identifying those supplies and where they’re available, and then working with the manufacturers in making sure that they are available.”
- Dr. Redfield on public health data reporting:
“Congress has provided funding for data modernization and we’re in the process of implementing that. The reality is there’s an archaic system, a non-integrated public health system, each public health department has their own systems. This nation needs a modem, highly-capable, data analytics system that can do predictive analysis. I think it’s one of the many shortcomings that have been identified as we went through this outbreak.”
- Dr. Fauci on the development of therapeutics:
“In all of the therapeutic interventions that we are developing… they could be direct anti-virals along the lines of remdesivir, but that’s just one of a number of possibilities since there several viral targets in the replication cycle. Using convalescent plasma in a preventive modality, as well as monoclonal antibodies in a preventive modality, are in fact all feasible and will be pursued in parallel to the development of a vaccine.”
- Dr. Fauci on returning to school:
"Going back to school would be more in the realm of knowing the landscape of infection with regard to testing. As Admiral Giroir said, it would depend on the dynamics of the outbreak in the region where the school is. I did not mean to imply at all a relationship between the availability of a vaccine & treatment and the ability to go back to school."
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: White House via Flickr / Public Domain)
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