In prepared witness testimony, leaders of the nation’s three top agencies battling the coronavirus outbreak describe their months-long efforts to develop testing, treatments and possible vaccines to control the pandemic. The statements come as the U.S. has recorded nearly 4.5 million total infections and more than 151,000 deaths — figures that most experts agree undercount the true toll of the virus.
The testimony, to be delivered by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield and Assistant Secretary for Health at Department of Health and Human Services, Admiral Brett P. Giroir, will be presented at a hearing on “The Urgent Need for a National Plan to Contain the Coronavirus” held by the House subcommittee formed to oversee the coronavirus response.
In his prepared remarks, Redfield reiterated the CDC’s urgent role as the nation’s leading public health agency, especially during this pandemic but said there must be greater structural investments to respond to coronavirus, including ramping up contact tracers. He pleaded with all Americans to get their flu shot this year to avoid competing outbreaks of COVID-19 and influenza as flu season approaches.
Fauci outlined the research going into developing a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19, saying in his opening remarks that,
“There is growing optimism that one or more of these vaccine candidates will prove safe and effective by late 2020 or early 2021.”
More research is needed before the world will fully understand if getting infected with the coronavirus produces antibodies that can protect you from getting sick again, he said. He also added that if those antibodies do serve such a role, it’s unclear how long that protection might last.
Giroir took lawmakers through the nation’s testing strategy, saying that the U.S. has administered more than 51 million tests and conducts roughly 770,000 tests daily. The federal government has worked with state and local leaders to address bottlenecks in the testing supply chain, so that when people want a test for COVID-19, they can get it and have results back quickly. He also said that the Food and Drug Administration has worked to expand and vet the number of types of tests available to the public so people can have accurate and timely results.
Read the full submitted witness testimony below: