On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. The committee questioned Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary of health and human services, and Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
Both Fauci and Redfield stressed that the country is far from widespread immunity. Redfield cited CDC studies showing that more than 90 percent of the American population remains susceptible to the coronavirus. Fauci agreed, and forcefully disputed Sen. Rand Paul’s claims that much of New York City has developed herd immunity.
Both Fauci and Redfield also reiterated Redfield’s comments last week that a coronavirus vaccine will not be widely available by the end of this year. Fauci said that a large proportion of Americans will not be vaccinated this year. Redfield expanded on this, saying that the administration will have 700 million doses of the vaccine produced by March or April, but it will take more time, possibly even until July, for these doses to be distributed and administered to the American public.
Hahn committed to full transparency during the FDA’s vaccine authorization process. His comments came a day after news broke that the FDA is planning to issue stricter guidelines for vaccine authorization, including increased specific criteria for clinical trials and recommendations that the data be reviewed by a committee of independent experts. After Hahn’s testimony yesterday, Trump dismissed this plan as a “political move.”
Redfield, who came under attack by Trump last week after his comments about the vaccine timeline, dodged questions about political interference at the CDC. He refused to acknowledge reports of interference at the CDC. When pressed on the agency’s reversal last week of controversial testing guidelines that had said asymptomatic individuals who had been in contact with an infected person did not need to be tested, Redfield stated that the change was due to misinterpretation of the guidelines. He did not acknowledge the clear discrepancy between the old and new guidelines.
Part of Investigation: