WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The country’s top coronavirus experts updated Congress Wednesday on the latest federal response efforts to the pandemic as deaths in the U.S. exceed 200,000.
The Senate Health Committee hearing focused on the timeline to get a safe and effective vaccine to the American people.
“Will you be willing to take that vaccine for you and for your family?,” Chair Lamar Alexander, R-TN, asked.
“Absolutely. Yes,” replied FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn.
Alexander wants the American people to have the same confidence in a vaccine as the man in charge of approving it.
“I have the complete and absolute faith in the expertise of the scientists who are terrific at FDA,” Hahn said.
Hahn and other members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force told senators they should know by December if the nation’s six vaccine candidates are safe and effective, and have tens of millions of doses ready to distribute.
“We’re risking the taxpayers’ money, but we’re not risking safety and efficacy. Is that your testimony?,” Alexander asked.
“Yes, it is. That’s absolutely correct,” replied Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Despite comments from President Trump this week that the coronavirus “affects virtually nobody,” Fauci warned the majority of Americans are still susceptible.
“It’s gotten more difficult as we approach the election,” said Sen. Doug Jones, D-AL.
Jones said this is the kind of mixed messaging he’s hearing from both sides of the aisle that makes it difficult to build confidence in developing vaccines and wearing masks.
“It won’t be politics that make any part of that decision, sir,” Hahn told Jones.
“This simple, simple decision,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said as he held up his mask. “But unfortunately, it’s not something 75 percent of us can do, and we’re going to get the results we want.”
Redfield said if every American wore a mask and practiced social distancing, the outbreak would get under control.