tv White House COVID-19 Response Team Holds Briefing CSPAN October 6, 2021 8:26pm-9:01pm EDT
>> saturday night, former president donald trump speaks at a rally at the iowa state fairgrounds in the capital of des moines. he won the state of iowa in 2020 and is considered a top contender for the 2024 gop presidential nomination. lead coverage is on c-span, online at c-span.org and watch on our video app, c-span now. next an update on federal efforts to combat the pandemic. the white house covid-19 response team talked about and expensing -- expansion of testing options, covid and flu vaccinations and therapeutics. >> thanks for joining us. in a moment i will turn to doctors wilensky, fauci and murphy. i will start with discussing progress we're making on testing, vaccination and boosters, three critical arts of the president six point plan to
accelerate the recovery from the pandemic. first, testing. in the past few months, testing has increased. particularly at home testing, and convenient option that came to market earlier this year. to meet this increased demand, the president's plan wraps up the availability of tests -- ramps up the availability of test and access to pretesting. in a matter of weeks we have made significant progress on both fronts. in september at the president's direction, the federal government invested $2 billion to ensure tests are available to those who need them and purchase value that allows them to ramp up production. we are making even more progress. on monday, fda authorized a new rapid at-home test from laboratories which will bring
tens of millions more rapid at-home tests to the market. over the past day, we have also received commitments from two manufacturers to further expand manufacturing and speed up their tests, taking months of the timeline and adding tens of millions of tests per month to their capacity. today we are making another billion dollar investment to further mobilize testing manufacturers. this means companies will be able to expand production of tests even further based on the united states government's commitment to procure an additional 180 million tests over the course of the next year. with tens of millions of more tests coming into market over the course of the next 30 days. thanks to the president's actions in september, we were on track to double the supply of rapid tests by early november.
authorization of the new test on monday accelerated this pace and we are on track to triple the number by early november. then today's billion dollar investment to further expand testing production puts us on track to quadruple the amount of at-home rapid tests available for americans by december. that means we will have an available supply of 200 million rapid tests per month starting in december with a supply of tens of millions of additional test coming across the market over the next few weeks. at the same time as we increase rapid at-home testing, we are increasing access to pretesting. free testing is essential to our -- central to our covid response from day one. in september, the president committed to expanding the number of pharmacies in the federal governments pretesting
program to 10,000 local pharmacies across the country. we are on track to meet that goal in the coming weeks and today we are doubling our commitment to a total of 20,000 local pharmacies. that is 20,000 local pharmacies that will offer a free testing through the federal government's pharmacy program. this represents an eightfold increase for mowing the president entered office. and that is on top of the 10,000 other community-based pretesting sites in the country. many of which are supported by federal investments in community testing. in total, we will have 30,000 30,000 sites in the u.s. where people can walk in and get a free test. we are on track to quadruple the supply of rapid at-home tests by december -- and to increase the
number of free tests americans can access at thousands of community locations. the steps we are taking will ensure that every american new matter their income or zip code can access accurate, convenient and affordable testing. second, vaccination. vaccinating the unvaccinated remains the top priority. last month the president announced new vaccinations that will cover about 100 million americans. tomorrow the president will travel to chicago, home of united airlines which was an early mover on vaccine requirements. in the last two days, we have seen american airlines, southwest, jetblue, all require vaccination for employees. vaccination requirements work. new data enforces this each day.
on monday, new york city reported 96% of its roughly 150,000 employees had their first shot by the cities vaccination deadline. so from the u.s. military to big and small businesses to colleges and universities, to health care employers and now the largest school district in the nation, we have seen vaccination requirements work to dramatically increase vaccination rates. third, booster shots. we are working with pharmacies, community centers, and doctors to get booster shots in arms. the department of veterans affairs is reaching out to thousands of veterans eligible to receive their booster. in states including new
hampshire, connecticut, indiana, michigan, wisconsin, oregon, idaho, washington, they will receive support from the government to receive -- to reach underserved communities including meeting people where they are with mobile clinics. this work is clearly paying off. we estimate that 4 million americans have now rolled up their sleeves and gotten a booster shot. 2 million in the first week and another two we -- 2 million in the last five days. so our booster program is not only up and running but also exhilarating. and we are building on our strong start to get millions of eligible americans their booster shot. i will close with this. we have made tremendous progress over the past eight months, and we are executing well against the president's six point plan. we are on the right track, what we need everyone to do their part.
so if you are unvaccinated, or if you are eligible for a booster shot, please go get a shot today. it is free, safe, and easy. with that, over to dr. walensky. dr. walensky: let's begin with the data. our 70 averages about -- a decrease of 12% over the previous week. the seven day average of hospital admissions is a decrease in about 14% from last week. the seven day average daily death remains constant at 1400 per day. each week we share with you the science of why vaccination is our most powerful tool to beat covid-19. we are committed to making sure all americans receive the best protection by getting vaccinated.
186 million americans are fully vaccinated against covid-19 and we are adding hundreds of thousands of more each day. i want to remind you that vaccination is not just important for covid-19, it is also important for preventing other infectious diseases, especially influenza, or the flu. the cdc has started collecting data for our influenza surveillance report which we will start publishing online beginning october 15 and will continue throughout flu season. each week, we publish comprehensive data on outpatient influenza like illness, laboratory confirmed hospitalizations and influenza-related death. last year there were very few flu cases, largely because of masking and physical distancing and other prevention measures put in place for the covid pandemic. with modest flu virus activity since 2020, flu experts are
concerned that reduced population level in unity to the seasonal view could -- flu could place us at risk for a severe flu season. the symptoms of the flu can be family and is similar to those with covid-19, which can lead to additional means -- needs ferc flu and cover testing and isolation for either diseases especially in schools. and even as average daily covid hospitalizations are decreasing, we continue to see many hospitals and intensive care units across the country at full capacity. each year in the united states, influenza can claim between 12,000 and 52,000 lives and results in 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations. another toll we need to work hard to avoid. furthermore, an increase in fluent factions and flu severity could put an additional burden on our health care system and
increased stress on our nation's health care workers. please do your part to ensure that everyone is best protected against flu by getting vaccinated. cdc recommends a flu vaccination or anyone who is six months or older, and just like with covid-19, we need as many people vaccinated for influenza so that we can provide protection for those who are most at risk such as adults over 65, those of any age who have chronic health conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes, and children, especially under five, who are at risk of severe publications from the flu. i encourage you to take the time to get information you need and to roll up your sleeves to get vaccinated against the flu. for those who have yet to be vaccinated against, 19, please roll up your sleeve.
it is safe and effective to get both vaccines at the same time. getting vaccinated against flu and covid-19 is the best way everyone can stay healthy, checking themselves, their loved ones in their community. yesterday i received my flu vaccination as i do every year to protect myself, my family and my patients. thank you, i will turn things over to travanti. dr. fauci: thank you dr. walensky. i would like to talk about the therapeutic aspect of countermeasures against covid-19, especially -- specifically pointing out a program that included the discovery of new molecules. when one looks at therapeutics for covid-19, and these are just some select therapeutics, the two major concepts are to target the virus and to moderate a host response. we already have one fda approved
, there are other antivirals which i will get to, monoclonal bodies are accessible, and more readily used in the treatment of early disease. moderating has been successful with drugs like those that interfere with various components of the inflammatory pathway. but what i want to talk about now is an approach to development of direct acting antivirals as i've written about with my colleague. recently, when we talk about what the therapeutic landscapers. some going to talk about a particular recent announcement, but i want to put into perspective with the broad program is so you can understand things you might expect in the coming months and years. the biden administration has
invested $3.2 billion from the american rescue plan as part of this antiviral development strategy just a slight ago. next slide. it is referred to as the antiviral program for pandemics. which aims to catalyze the development of new medicines to combat not only covid-19 but to also prepare us and position us for therapies against other pandemic threats. this is a cycle of sars-cov-2. as you can see on any viral replication cycle, there are areas that are vulnerable targets for the developing of drugs, entry inhibitors among others. this is very similar to the approach that was used for the highly successful development of
combination drugs for hiv and for hcv or hepatitis c virus. the program has two components, one is to develop and accelerate the development of common pounds -- compounds that are showing promise. the second part, which will take years, is to expand our basic -- and the discovery of new antivirals. next slide. when you look at those things that are already in development, direct, antiviral drugs, they fall into a couple of different categories. the one that has recently gained attention is a combination among a number of elements and a number of organizations to collaborate in its develop. .
as you know, a few days ago, there was an announcement by merck of a placebo control trial of about 1500 people in which they stopped the study early after the first analysis of 775 people. the endpoint of the study was the prevention of hospitalization and death and the results were encouraging. 7% hospitalization in the treatment of an 14% in the placebo arm. that leads to a 50% decrease in the endpoint of hospitalization or death. there were eight deaths in the treatment group. -- there were eight deaths in the placebo group, and no deaths in the treatment group. the biden administration has announced the procurement of this antiviral for covid-19 treatment.
it is important that we go through the usual process of careful examination of the data. both for effectiveness but also safety. whenever you introduce a new compound, safety is important. i want to point out something that is of interest. this is the example of a big -- good cross section collaboration and cross sector collaboration. it was funded not only by my answer to but by the defense threat deduction agency, georgia state university of alabama at birmingham, -- and the drug was developed by a drug -- and it was licensed to reach back partnered with -- ridgeback who partnered with merck.
pending close scrutiny by the fda, a promising new oral drug that people could take it home soon after covid-19 to reduce the risk of severe outcomes. having said that, we always get back to the common message we will all give you. it is our best tool against covid-19. it is much much better to prevent yourself from getting infected then having to treat an infection. i will turn it over to you dr. murthy. dr. murthy: thank you, it is nice to be with everyone. i would like to speak about vaccine requirements. in the last few months, more organizations have announced covid-19 vaccination requirements and the president recently announced the federal government will be using its authority to require vaccination for federal workers, health care workers and organizations with 100 or more employees.
he will talk more about this in chicago tomorrow. i want to make points about vaccine requirements. vaccine requirements are not new. in 1777, president george washington required soldiers to be inoculated against smallpox. in the 1800s, any public schools began requiring vaccination for students. during world war ii, the u.s. military required their troops are to be vaccinated against a number of diseases including typhoid, tetanus and yellow fever. of for years, doctors and nurses including me have complied with vaccine requirements in health care settings to care for patients and the list goes on. vaccine requirements are part of our historical effort to protect public health. the second point is this. vaccine requirements work. the increase vaccination rates. over 90% of children today are vaccinated against polio, hepatitis, mabel's best measles,
mumps, rubella at the time they turned two. has protected kids from the diseases. vaccination also shields the minority of children who may be immuno comprised and not respond to a vaccine. for the covid vaccine, we have seen requirements work. over 99% of workers at united airlines are in compliance with the company's vaccination requirements. up from 59% in august. and the henry ford health system, 98% of workers are in compliance with the organizations vaccine requirements, which is up from 68% when they announced the requirement. the third point i want to make, seen requirements reflect a fundamental reality that our individual decisions affect other people and it comes to covid. we don't live in a bubble. we live in a community. that is why there have been a
number of instances threat history where we have made a decision as a society to abide by common rules that protect the common good. we have agreed to drive below the speed limit, recognizing when we take on the risk of speeding, it can cost other people their lives. we made rules so that people can't smoke in indoor bars and restaurants because secondhand smoke can harm the health of others. looking out for one another, for our collective health and well-being, --, is what makes a strong as a nation. this continues the tradition of protecting the common good. vaccine requirements are fundamentally about creating safer spaces for people to work, learn and get health care. we are incredibly fortunate to have vaccines that are highly effective and proven to have a strong safety profile. the more people get vaccinated, the more lives we will save and the faster this pandemic will come to an end. thanks for your time, i will
pass it back for questions. >> thanks doctors, let's open it up for questions. kevin question mark -- kevin? >> let's go to david at politico. >> thanks for taking my question. president biden talked about expanding availability of covid vaccine -- testing. why are these new investment into at-home test coming nine months into office, when experts i've spoken to say there has been an inadequate amount of resources been putting before question mark should these contracts have been signed months ago? >> our strategy ensures widespread testing for symptomatic individuals and regular screening for settings like schools and nursing homes. in the past few months, testing has increased, particularly at
home testing, and that at home testing convenient option came to market earlier this year. to meet the increased demand, the president has planned the availability of test and access to free testing. thanks to the $2 billion investment we talked about last month, we are on track to double supply, to meet this increased demand for this innovative and convenient caught up. thanks to more action this week as we talked about in the authorization of the new test by the fda, another $1 billion on top of that, we are on track to couple -- quadruple. we have increased at home testing is the innovation allowed for at home testing to be approved earlier this year. more tests have come to market including the product that just came to market this week. it is important to emphasize how we have had free testing from
the beginning and we continue to improve access. making it more and more convenient for people to get a free test and soon to be at 30,000 occasions across the country. we have made significant progress throughout the president's administration overall. we are approaching a run rate by december but -- of about half a billion tests per month, half of which will be a product of the did not exist when the president came into office which is the popular at-home test. we will continue to pull every lever as we have throughout the pandemic response. on testing. to expand manufacturing and production of tests to make tests even more widely available and drive down the cost per test. next question. >> thank you for taking my question. i wanted to ask if any of these at-home tests we are investing
in, are they going toward putting more at home testing going on shelves in retail settings or will the be distributed to workplaces and schools? >> a good question. what the contracts allow for, the purchases, commitments by the u.s. government, it allows the manufacturers to have the confidence in the demand to scale up their production. so yes, the u.s. government will purchase tests and distribute them to community health centers , food pantries and other places across the country. but what this does on top of that is expand the production so that there are many more available at-home tests for consumers and employers if they want to purchase them. it is an expansion of the industrial base so that more manufacturing occurs based on the u.s.' commitment to the
testing sector. next question. >> caitlin collins from cnn. >> thanks so much and things for doing this. two questions. one, are you worried that widespread at home testing is going to affect the public tracking of cases, and are you asking people to report their own positive cases question mark and secondly, is this a guarantee from the government that from now on, inexpensive, rapid testing is widely available given the numbers -- the number still seems low if this is going into the idea of people testing on a regular basis while they are at home question mark --? >> dr. walensky? dr. walenksy: thank you. we continue to track pcr's and pcr pups to the test positivity.
some of these tests work through an app. some of them will confirm by pcr positivity. we continue to track cases and we are relying on people to report positivity. >> it's important when we talk about 200 million at-home rabbit tests, just one part of the testing landscape. we also have lab-based pcr tests as it just described, free pharmacies, that is the 20,000 locations we are expanding to plus another 10,000 sites around the country, schools are doing screening, testing in long-term care facilities and state testing sites. overall, by the end of the year, we will have half a billion tests per month. half of which are these popular, convenient, at-home tests. the bottom line is there has been and there continues to be enough testing capacity in america, we will continue to pull every lever to expand
manufacturing and production of a test, which will have the impact of drumming down the cost for tests in making sure the tests are widely available and convenient. next question. >> let's go to bloomberg. >> hi, thanks for taking my question. i have two questions. what companies are you purchasing the $1 billion in test from, and you mentioned just now you think the rise in the number of tests will drive down the cost, $24 a test is still high for most people. do you have any guarantees from the companies in the contract, any other methods you plan on taking to make widespread testing cheaper, not just for people who can go to community health centers? >> i want to emphasize there are many free testing options and
under the administration testing is covered. there are many ways to have tests without any out-of-pocket expense. i don't want to get ahead of the contracting process and therefore will not talk about specific companies. i will note that the icon -- a contest approved by the fda -- the test approved by the fda plans to retail for less than $10. if we get tests approved and manufacturing ramps up, pricing should come down as economies to scale are achieved and competition kicks in. we expect this increase in capacity will drive down the price -- price per test. next question. >> last question. >> thanks. on the president's trip to chicago tomorrow, i was wondering if you could offer up review and is separately, --
sweeping vaccine mandates including for domestic air travel and train travel, why has the u.s. not to come at step yet? can you speak to the policy decision for why the white house has not done that? is it a legal one, or a policy or political question? >> on the travel question, the president has taken many steps on vaccination requirements, health care workers through the center for medicare and medicaid, requiring vaccination for 17 million health-care workers, the federal workforce, requiring vaccinations, the military under secretary austin, the department of labor rule which is coming for employers with more than 100 employees, vaccinated -- international air travel will require vaccination,
people coming from other countries for vaccinations, there has been a lot of work the vaccination requirements cover. about 100 million americans. it is clear we are taking strong action. the president is going to get people vaccinated and that's what he's going to talk about in the dutch tomorrow in chicago. the vaccination requirements as dr. murphy said do work, they are good for the economy, they bring people back in the labor force, the brink of dutch consumers back into mo business is in their supported by the american people. and as dr. murphy said, they have a long history -- dr. murthy said, they have a long history. we believe they are effective to ensure people are vaccinated or tested, and we have data that will be highlighted tomorrow on how effective these requirements are a driving at vaccination rates. as for domestic travel, we are
taking further action as you know by doubling the fines for noncompliance of masking on airplanes. we have a track record, i think it is clear, that it shows we are pulling available levels -- levers to require vaccination and we are not taking anything off the table. thank you for today's briefing and we look forward to seeing everybody. >> >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these companies and more, including mediacom. >> we never slowed it down. schools and businesses went virtual, and we powered a new reality, because we are built to keep you ahead. >> mediacom supports c-span as a public service along, with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. ♪ >> get c-span on the go.
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