WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn, held a hearing with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle P. Walensky, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony S. Fauci, and Chief Science Officer for COVID Response David Kessler to examine the Biden Administration’s successful efforts to distribute vaccines and the steps that must be taken to end the coronavirus pandemic.
During the hearing, bipartisan Members of the Select Subcommittee praised President Biden’s success in accelerating vaccinations. Chairman Clyburn said in his opening statement:
“Since President Biden took office, we have seen a massive increase in the pace of vaccinations. Just look at the progress we have made since January 20. … We are vaccinating more than 3 million people each day, with a record of 4.6 million shots this past Saturday. More Americans were vaccinated this past week alone than in the first six weeks of the vaccine rollout. One-third of the United States population has now received at least one dose of the vaccine. And four days from now, all adults will be eligible to receive a vaccine. We are on the path to finally defeat this virus.”
Ranking Member Steve Scalise said:
“I commend President Biden for accepting the challenge that House Republicans issued at the beginning of this year, to not just accept what was already in place, the 100 million vaccine goal, but to in fact double that, to 200 million shots. We are now on pace to reach that goal that we set.”
Dr. Fauci emphasized that our nation is “at a critical turning point,” explaining, “We are doing very well with regard to the rollout of vaccines. And yet we are seeing, in the country, that there are several states in which the numbers are going up.” Dr. Fauci urged Americans to continue to take basic precautions like wearing masks while vaccinations continue.
Witnesses provided the following additional testimony during the hearing:
The Biden-Harris Administration Has Succeeded in Accelerating Vaccinations
- Dr. Fauci said, “there really has been a full-blown effort to try and get as many vaccines into as many people as we possibly can as quickly as we can.”
- Dr. Kessler said: “Over 79 percent of people over 65 have received at least one dose and over 60 percent of people over 65 are fully vaccinated. We have enough supply to deliver 3 million shots per day and we have secured enough doses of mRNA vaccines for 300 million Americans.”
Vaccines Are Safe and Effective, and We Must Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy
- Dr. Kessler warned that “the greatest risk right now is the issue of vaccine hesitancy,” and said the Biden Administration is “going to work day and night to build further confidence in the American people.”
- Dr. Kessler affirmed that vaccines are safe, effective, and essential to reducing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic: “[T]he thing I am absolutely certain is that if we want to take that number of deaths down, if want to get back to normal, to every American, please, please be vaccinated.” He noted, “Nothing, nothing, should detract from the fact that Americans need to get vaccinated and that we have vaccines available today that meet our high standards for safety and effectiveness.”
- Dr. Fauci explained that use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused “out of an abundance of caution to see what we’re dealing with” to “make sure they alert physicians about what to do with it.” He said, “Hopefully, we’ll get a decision quite soon as to whether or not we can get back on track with this very effective vaccine.”
- Dr. Fauci further explained that equity is an “important part of the vaccine distribution program,” saying, “in order to get this pandemic under control, we have to get the overwhelming majority of the people in this country vaccinated.”
Unlike the Previous Administration, the Biden-Harris Administration Is Leading with Science
- In response to a question from Congressman Jamie Raskin, Dr. Fauci rejected the herd immunity strategy repeatedly advocated by Trump Administration officials and by former President Trump himself. Dr. Fauci said: “I had great concerns about, essentially, letting people get infected for the purpose of getting enough immunity in the community to then get to this elusive terminology of herd immunity.”
- Dr. Walensky affirmed her commitment to lead the CDC with science: “I have let the American people know that the CDC is going to be led by science and our subject matter experts that review that science.” She explained that upon being named CDC Director, she directed her principal deputy to “review all of the guidance that was on the CDC website related to COVID and to ensure that it was backed by our CDC experts and our subject matter experts.” CDC has removed three guidance documents issued under the Trump Administration because they did not reflect the best science.