5 Takeaways From the Covid-19 Hearing
The coronavirus Fantastic Four — Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Robert Redfield, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Stephen Hahn, MD, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and Brett Giroir, MD, assistant secretary for health — returned to Congress today to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about where the United States currently stands with the Covid-19 pandemic. Here are five key takeaways from the meeting.
1. We are on-track for a vaccine to be available by the beginning of 2021
Fauci confirmed that the first phase 3 trial for a vaccine for the virus, developed by the drug company Moderna, will begin in July, and if all goes well, it could begin to be administered to the public early next year. While there is still no guarantee the vaccine will work against the virus in the general population, Fauci says he is “cautiously optimistic” given the data so far. Several other vaccine options are also in various stages of development and testing, and preliminary results from animal studies are promising.
There has already been a substantial financial investment made toward manufacturing a vaccine in order to scale up production and distribution if and when one is approved. However, Fauci and Hahn reinforced that the only risk being taken is a financial one, not a scientific one. No corners will be cut in terms of safety and efficacy criteria, and vaccines will be assessed by the FDA with the normal rigor before one is approved.
2. Testing capacity has accelerated since March, not slowed down
Despite comments in recent days by President Trump that he’s urged health experts to limit testing, all four men stated that they had received no such directive from the White House. Giroir said the U.S. has performed 27 million tests so far, and they anticipate conducting 40 to 50 million tests by this fall.
3. A new test is coming that can simultaneously diagnose the coronavirus and influenza
The pending flu season coinciding with a second wave of Covid-19 was a big topic of conversation. Redfield said that the…