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tv   Drs. Walensky Fauci Others Testify on Response to COVID-19 Variants -...  CSPAN  January 12, 2022 5:04am-6:19am EST

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we'll reconvene at 12:45.o not e
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with the oral antiviral drugs that nih funded -- >> this committee will reconvene. i want to make clear this committee will conduct itself with decorum and respect. if i hear personal attacks, i will gavel and move on. i want to thank committee members and i'm going to be strict with the five-minute rule as we've moved way past our time and need to move on. with that, i look forward to the next round of questions so we can get to the essential work of addressing the pan dem, which has upended so many lives and continues to threaten the public health.
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we begin with senator baldwin. >> thank you, madam chair. doctor, during our last hearing, we discussed the critical need for my biopreparedness work force act legislation i introduced with my colleagues to strengthen our outbreak response workforce so we can better prepare for the next pandemic. this legislation would address the serious workforce shortages and recruitment challenges you mentioned by establishing a new loan repayment program focussed on encouraging students to pursue careers as clinicians and bio preparedness health professionals. at this -- as this committee assembles a package of policies to respond to the next pandemic, it's important to remember without people there is no
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preparedness. in the midst of the omicron surge, it's never been clearer that we need a robust and capable workforce to fully respond to public health emergencies. this would go a long way towards that goal. dr. wolensky, as public health leader k you share more about how a strong clinical and public health workforce is key and how legislation by the bio preparedness workforce acted is important for future health emergencies. >> thank you, senator. there's so much here. first, let me say there's been a recent study that's demonstrated our public health workforce is down about 80,000 jobs. so, to give you a sense -- and that's not physicians who are actually doing the work on the ground. in the hospitals. this is a public health workforce, down 80,000 jobs.
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we saw, through the pandemic, the challenges in short of the volume of people doing public health work and where they're locatted and their experience. we need an upskilled work force. we need people to do the genomic sequences, we need people as diverse as the communities they serve. we also need to make sure that they are compensated, have the right salaries, and as you say, have loan repayment for their work. infectious physicians don't do procedures and by virtue of not doing procedures, there's not a lot of to move into that. public health americorps is a big piece of that.
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we're grateful to resources from congress to do so. but there's a vital need now to expand our public health workforce in laboratory capacity, in disease outbreak investigation, and workforce that is upskilled and as diverse as the communities we serve. thank you. >> thank you. we all know that vaccines remain the best way to protect yourself against existing variants of covid-19 and i have been encouraged by the fda's work to authorize vaccines for the public, but parents continue to be concerned we don't have a vaccine for their kits as omicron surges. dr. woodcock, can you provide an update on where we are in examination of the authorization of covid-19 vaccines for children under 5? >> certainly. as dr. fauci said earlier, one of the companies, pfizer, had done trials. there are other trials going on.
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there were probably complications with the dose in the slightly older of the younger children. perhaps indicating that a third dose, as dr. fauci said, might be needed to primary regimen. fda is working with the company very closely, trials are ongoing. i, too, have heard from many, many parents of the youngest children. they have other children in school. they may have immunocompromised individuals in their household, and there are people who really want to get this vaccine. so one of the vaccines and get the children vaccinated. we're working very intensely on this right now. we're working, of course, with nih and with the companies. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. senator paul. >> dr. fauci, it's disappointing for you to suggest that people who dare to question you are
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responsible somehow for violent threats. realize that by attacking me, you're attacking the one member who actually has suffered from violent attacks. i was at the ball field the day steve scalise almost died. i was ten feet away from a staffer who was shot in the leg. we had over 160 rounds of semiautomatic weapons fired at us, ammunition. so for you to somehow suggest that somehow i or people who dare to oppose you are responsible for threats, that's insulting. the person who shot at us and almost skilled steve scalise was a rabid supporter of bernie sanders, but the one thing you'll find is not one of us accused bernie sanders of being responsible for that. so this is the kind of ignorant sort of personal attacks that you have engaged in. you engaged in these attacks with fellow scientists. not only was it three scientists from harvard, oxford, and stanford that you chose to malign, 50,000 scientists and
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medical doctors signed this petition. and what they wanted was something that most americans think is pretty reasonable. it's a different kind of approach. instead of saying that everyone is the same and everyone should get the same treatment and everybody to just get vaccinated, what it did is it said that the death rate for this disease is extraordinary in the risk being different, according to ages. so if you look at an 80-year-old, it's at least 1,000 times greater death rate than it is for a 10-year-old. so wouldn't we want to say that, well, we're going to assess the risks of each individual and have the treatment according to that, or would we simply say everyone should be vaccinated? the death rate for kids under 18 is about 1 in a million. a little bit les than the chance of being struck by lightning. we don't yet know fully whether or not kids who have already had covid might be at risk for some of the side effects of the vaccine, still needs to be explored. but for a kid under 18 who has
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already had koed, it's about 1 in a million. it's extraordinarily uncommon for a kid to die. if you already had the disease, it's pretty a great deal less than that. many americans wonder why you steadfastly refused and worked with others to try to hide any knowledge of natural immunity and how it would affect our decision making. so for example, you have a 10-year-old kid, and his mom comes up and he gets myocarditis from the vaccine and dies. admittedly a rare complication, bought what do you tell her when she said he had covid three months ago. why would you force me to have my kid vaccinated without checking to see if he's immune. the idea of natural immunity is upon which vaccines are based. all of medicine is based on the idea of acquiring natural immunity. people often respond and say, but you don't know how long it will last. we don't know how long vaccines
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will last either. it doesn't make us anti-vaccine. we know the vaccines are waning very quickly in potency. we do know that the vaccine against omicron really isn't preventing transmission. you have noticed that the debate has shifted and the debate is now talking about trying to prevent hospitalizations and death. i agree with those statistics. i think it's a good idea if you're at risk to be vaccinated. i'm against authoritarianism and against man datszidates. the anger that's developed with you is you don't want to give us advice. you want to tell us what to do. you think you are the science and everybody who responds to you, how dare you. how dare you criticize science? as if you somehow are science. that kind of arrogance, that hubris, is really -- that's where the anger is coming towards you. if you were one doctor among hundreds of doctors in the government who gave advice, i don't think anybody -- people might object to your advice, but
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there wouldn't be such a degree of agger, but you're so certain you're right, you're not willing to hear anyone else. three epidemiologists of which you're not even an epidemiologist, three prominent in their field, you maligned them. you spoke openly with dr. collins and you did not disagree that let's paint them as fringe. you went after them and said we will do a public takedown, not in science or nature, in wired in the nation, a leftwing publication. you have engaged in base politics. you wonder why there's so much anger. you're not an objective scientist. you lost that long ago. so many of the things that people want, they want to know why you're forcing their children to be vaccinated when 95% of people at risk have been vaccinated. over 95% of people over 65, it's a huge voluntary success, and yet you won't rest until you force every child to get this. yes, there's a -- >> senator paul, your time has expired.
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>> many people want you to go, but nobody wishes you violence. >> urtime has expired. i will use one time of my remining five minutes to allow senator fauci to respond. >> thank you very much. >> dr. fauci, sorry. >> thank you, dr. murray. >> no, no. >> so first of all, senator, again, at a hearing such as this, where there are almost 900,000 people in this country have died from this outbreak, you have chosen to just personal attacks on me that go back to multiple hearings. and again, just for the record, for people to check, i have never said take people down in that email. there was an email that was sent to me, see, and again -- >> you agreed with dr. collins. >> senator paul, this is my time. >> you know, you personally attacked me, and the things that you do are incorrect. and proven incorrect. you have publicly accused me at
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a hearing of being responsible for the death of 5 million people. when there is not a single, single shred of evidence that anything that was done with the nih had anything to do with covid-19. you talk about things like gain of function -- >> dr. fauci, i'm going to let you respond continually, but i think you have responded. >> i appreciate the time. thank you very much, madam chair. i just want to say, i'm actually stunned by the amount of misinformation. the only thing i have ever done, and this will take 20 seconds, if you look at the things i have said, they have been to support the recommendations of the cdc, of their advisory committees, and of the fda. i have told people that it's important to get vaccinated, to get boosted, to wear a mask, and to be prudent. that's the only thing i have said. i haven't dictating anything that's only a monolith with me.
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it's always public health practices. and anybody that goes back over any record of me, they know that. >> thank you, and i will retain the balance of my time. thank you. senator casey. >> thank you, chair murray. i want to start with dr. walensky. as you know, the cdc has been working with my staff on an outstanding nursing home vaccine data request. i would appreciate it you and your team would continue to work with me and with our team at the aging committee to resolve this manner. >> yes, thank you, senator. i'm aware of that matter and we're committing to continuing to work with you. thank you. >> thank you. let me turn to a matter for health and human services. assistant secretary o'connell, you know our nation's long-term care facilities were ground zero during the first year of the covid-19. 200,000 residents and workers when you add up the number of residents plus the number of
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workers who died. it gets to 200,000 over these two years. however, nursing home deaths have declined, declined dramatically thanks to the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. it's a credit to the administration that 90% of nursing home residents and 80% of workers have been vaccinated. we know that infections are on the rise right now in nursing homes, raising safety concerns and putting additional pressures on workers who have been stretched thin. for instance, we know the pandemic has worsened existing staffing shortages and turnover issues. so we also know at the same time that the rescue plan that democrats passed in march helps to fill the staffing gap with a $500 million initiative for strike teams based upon legislation that i was leading recently. these strike teams provide
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medical personnel and other supports that help nursing homes get through the surges like the one that we're seeing right now. on the 22nd of december of last year, i along with three of my colleagues sent a letter to secretary becerra asking how health and human services was protecting nursing home residents and workers in the current covid-19 surge, including the distribution of booster shots. what is hhs doing to insure nursing homes have the supports they need to protect residents and workers who care for those residents? >> senator casey, thank you so much for your question. we share your concern for nursing home staff and long-term care facility residents and have continued to do all we can to make sure they have access to boosts. we have worked with pharmacies to bring in vaccination clinics, bring those to the long-term
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care facilities and skilled nursing facilities, so the vaccines are available on the ground and the residents don't have to travel or access the vaccines on their own. in addition, asper has been sending since the beginning of the pandemic or since the beginning the tests were available 2.8 million tests per week to long term care facilities across the country. we know how important it is that they're able to surveil any disease in their facilities and having access to these tests is one of the ways they can stay on top of where they are. so we share your concern, and we'll look forward to responding to your letter. >> thanks very much. >> senator burr. >> thank you, madam chairman. ms. woodcock, i know you said a while ago that you're excited about what radexx accomplished,
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and i think we are all, but fda issued resized guidance saying it would focus its review efforts on at-home kits with developers with the capacity to manufacture more than 500,000 tests per week within three months of being authorized. why did the fda move the goalpost at this particular time and suggest to companies that can't ramp up to that manufacturing that they're not going to get an accelerating eua pathway? >> well, because of what some of the members have been discussing over the last several hours, that we have an urgent need for high-volume home-based tests. and we have a queue. we have moved heaven and earth to get as many done as possible. we have approved, authorized over 400 different kinds of
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tests or test collection devices during this pandemic. but as far as what the queue is, the priority, we're prioritizing the highest volume, just putting them to the front so that we can get home test kits into the hands of -- >> dr. woodcock, i get what you're doing. my question is this, what does this say to the innovative company that's out there that doesn't have the manufacturing capacity and without us marrying them to a large manufacturing capacity, it's basically saying don't innovate because you're not going to get consideration under the eua if you don't have a manufacturing capacity of 500,000 tests a week. >> it says these are prioritized. it doesn't say we won't get to the others. >> well, get to the others, i mean, there's all a sense of urgency here. i just think that that might have been thought of before we did this. let me go to you, ms. o'connell.
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i'm really challenged on this procurement of 500 million tests, as you can tell. and one, i don't understand why there's not been a release that came out of asper or barta, publicly announcing here's how many we have contracted. but i have to find it somewhere in a dod contract that a very limited amount of people go to, certainly not one that i regularly looked at. but based on one of your contracts, we have 13.6 million tests costing $190 million. i think that's from the vodka distributor. when i break that down, that's about $14 a test. now, cms just put out a new rule that mandated that insurers must cover up to eight tests per person per month for a family of four, that's 32 tests, and they can reimburse at $12. now f i'm a manufacturer, and
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i'm under a $12 reimbursement or i can go over here and sell directly to the federal government and get $14, i'm probably going to sell to the federal government and get $14. where am i wrong? >> thank you, senator burr. we continue to work to access the tests that will be distributed as part of the 500 million, and the test that you're referring to, so first of all, dod by tradition has put out whenever we have done an assisted acquisition with them, they put out within the first 24 hours of that contract going out an announcement that the contract has gone out. so that's what you're seeing. and that's been de rigueur. it's been the way dod has approached this through our entire relationship. we're continuing to -- >> why is asper not putting out a similar public statement? >> we would be happy to, and thank you, senator. i'll go back and talk to the communications team and see if there's a companion press
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release that makes sense for us to put out. >> well, i'm not sure you addressed my concern, which is it's more profitable to sell to the federal government than it is to put it on retail based on the reimbursements this administration has required of insurers. i hope you'll think about that. this is alarming to me. as we have all displayed, there are no tests out there. there are no tests on the shelves that people can go in, buy and take home and do it. so it makes even more confusing the cdc's policy that if you want to take a test, go ahead and take it. it's not required but you can take it. you can't get it. dr. fauci, just very quickly, south african data suggests that omicron may have an ability to build immunity to delta. delta does not have an immunity -- does not build an immunity to omicron. have you got any comments on
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that? cyprus announced a delta-crom variant. are you worried about that? we have been about three weeks behind israel throughout this whole thing. even though we have seen south african data go up and go back down very quickly, israel epidemiologists just this week said they expect that for the next two weeks they will see a doubling of the infections in israel. meaning they're not following the same timeline that we saw in south africa. how should we interpret that for the u.s.? >> okay, thank you very much for those questions, senator. with regard to the cross protection, i think it's too early to tell because you're dealing with multiple population demography of people who have been previously infected, vaccinated, or what have you. it seems pretty clear that if you get infected with omicron, you're going to get good protection against omicron but also good protection against some of the other spill-overs. we really have yet to have seen, and i think the basis of your
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question is a reasonable one. if we wind up getting infected with omicron at a very, very low level of pathogenicity, is that sort of almost like a live attenuated vaccine? i don't think we can say that right now. we really have to see how things spread out when we see how that fares in the next variant. there will be invariable another variant. we're going to have to take a look at whether or not there's any protection there. that's the first thing. with regard to the delta-chron, this new variant, right now, even though it's got a bunch of mutations that people look at, it is not something that at least the w.h.o., who has looked at this carefully, feels that has to be something of great concern. but we always keep our eye on it to make sure. so when you say it's not of a great concern now, the one encouraging thing about it is that it's been around for a while. it isn't something that just propped up, and yet omicron
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completely outstripped it, as did delta. it doesn't look like it has the capability of being transmissible of being a problem. nonetheless, we still keep an eye out on it. with regard to israel, i'm sorry, i forgot your question about israel. could you repeat if? >> we're way over time. >> they run about three weeks in front of us. yet their experience is not up and down drastically like south africa data begins to show. they went and now it looks like over the next two weeks their epidemiologists say it's going to double and maybe double again before they hope it comes down. what should we expect? >> i think that's a great question, senator. what it really reflects is that when you have an outbreak of a particular variant, how high it goes up, when it peaks and comes down is a reflection of what the status is in your country. because if you look at what you saw in south africa, they were almost free of delta when they got omicron. so omicron sort of had the
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unfettered capability of going way up and way down. when you talk about what happened in israel, that's a different population. it's a mostly vaccinated population. so they're likely going to see breakthrough infections. in the united states, we have such a large country with such differences in vaccinations versus infections, et cetera, that we believe we will see it peak and we will see it come down, but it's very difficult to predict whether it's going to be a sharp decrease or whether it's going to do this. our own feeling, and i believe that dr. walensky feels the same way as i do, that it's going to vary depending upon where in the country you are. how much infection you had previously, what is the level of vaccination, so we may see a peak up and down in some regions of the country and a peak up and doing this in other regions of the country. >> thank you very much. senator smith. >> thank you, madam chair.
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i would like to ask a question of dr. walensky if i could. i think we all know that americans need better access to rapid testing, and this is a big deal for us in terms of trying to figure out what are our health risks, how do we protect ourselves, and how do we also go about our lives. i think that we are making headway here, that we have a long way to go. dr. walensky, i would like you to talk about this issue of how we should be or not collecting and analyzing the data from rapid home tests. should we be incorporating this data into like, should we try to capture that data? is this important for local communities as they're trying to make decisions about masking and other public health strategies that they want to deploy? should we be thinking of the data from rapid tests as a tool for individual risk assessment or as an important tool for population level understanding of what's happening? how do you see that? >> thank you so much, senator. we have been using the pcr test,
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not the rapid tests. the lab tests, the molecular tests, to really capture our case counts and really good a good view of where we are in terms of the epidemiology, anticipating what is coming in to the hospitals. but the self tests are a really important, valuable tool for people to empower themselves, to not expose themselves to other people, to get information about their own health. and so if an individual were to test positive, if they're feeling unwell, they should certainly consult with a health care provider, a pharmacist and your health department. but if you're feeling well, then use that rapid test to say, my test is positive, i need to stay home and isolate, protect myself from the community -- the community from me, and protect my loved ones so they don't get infected themselves. i think that it's less about the absolute case count of understanding whether you have asymptomatic infection or a runny nose and your rapid test is positive then it is really about empowering you to do the
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right thing and not be forward transmitting. >> could you talk about what other countries are doing? are they trying to incorporate the rapid testing data into their metrics? how is that working in other places around the world? >> some countries are and some countries aren't. london and uk have been doing more reporting of rapid testing, but they too are saying they're missing, i think somewhere around 40%. i would have to confirm that number, but they too, they capture more they we have tried to, they also agree that they're missing some as well. >> okay. thank you very much. madam chair, i'm going to cede back the rest of my time. i want to acknowledge something i think has been going on today that i think deserves being called out. you know, dr. fauci has been the target of a concerted and coordinated campaign of disinformation and distortion. and person attacks. and then he's being blamed for all of this hatred and anger
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that has been generated against him. i think we just need to be honest here. that this is being done by some members of the republican party that are using it for fund-raising. i'm not saying that that's happening by members of -- i'm just saying that is happening. it was pointed out to me that somebody sent out in 2021 a fauci for prison email. i just think it's important that we -- i have to call this out. and i think it's important that we see it and we have to try to rise above this kind of behavior. our committee here should be focusing on these kinds of kind of nitty-gritty policy questions, and we're not always going to agree. i have never heard dr. fauci or dr. walensky declare themselves to be invincible. i certainly am not, but that should not mean that individuals, career public servants are subjected to this
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kind of abuse. >> thank you. senator collins. >> ms. ocono, i want to follow up on my previous questions to you because i don't feel frankly that i got answers. i'm asking you specifically how much money was diverted from the testing budget to deal with the surge of people, including unaccompanied minors, illegally crossing the southern border? and how much money was diverted out of the funds allocated for the strategic stockpile? >> thank you, senator collins. again, all of the funds, as they were appropriated to the american rescue plan or for testing, contact tracing, and
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mitigation efforts. of those funds, funds were used to test unaccompanied children at the border and then to mitigate the covid positive cases so they wouldn't enter the community and spread covid. which was, you know, a use of the funds that was allowed under the testing, contact tracing, and mitigation requirements. >> well, you're still not answering my question on the amount of money that was used to deal with the crisis at the southern border. so i will tell you that our staff's investigation found that $850 million out of the testing budget and another $850 million out of the allocation for the stockpile were instead used to deal with the crisis at the southern border.
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do those numbers sound right to you? >> senator, i'll be happy to take that back and discuss that with our finance team to make sure that those numbers are the same numbers that they're tracking. >> well, i have to say that it's interesting to me that you knew all of the numbers, and i commend you for this, that were going to community programs, to schools, et cetera. but you can't tell me how much was reallocated to deal with the crisis at the southern border. a crisis that were it brought under control we would have these funds for the purposes that they were intended. let me ask you further. what do you mean when you say mitigation? as applied to the southern border and the surge, the
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unprecedented surge of people crossing? >> thank you. one of the important things that we needed to do when we identified a covid positive unaccompanied child was to make sure, for example, they didn't ride on the same bus to a shelter with a covid negative child. there were additional costs for transportation to keep the children separate, to mitigate spread as the statute allowed us to spend those funds. in addition, within the shelters, it was necessary to set up a separate room where covid positive unaccompanied children would reside so they wouldn't interact with the covid negative children, and that required additional, you know, additional resources in those shelters in order to keep them separate. so when the children entered the community with their sponsors, they were not bringing covid into the communities. >> well, i will tell you, having visited the southern border in late march, testing was being
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done, but people had been there for weeks at a time with no testing. and there were people, adults who were released into the community with no testing. the fact remains that if we had the southern border under control, we would be using the $850 million designated for testing to buy more rapid tests. we would be using the money out of the stockpile, the $850 million for the purposes for which it was intended. so i think that this is a problem that has contributed to the shortage of testing, the uncontrolled crisis at the border, and i also am perplexed
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by the lack of federal orders for tests between january and september of 2021. which i know from my experience in maine caused a major manufacturer, abbott, to lay off 400 workers that were producing those tests because it lacked the federal orders. that makes no sense to me. and seems very short-sighted. thank you. >> thank you, senator. senator hickenlooper. >> great. thank you, madam chair. and again, thank each of you for your public service. dr. walensky, i wanted to talk to you just for a moment about genomic sequencing. even before covid-19 appeared, colorado made a genomic
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sequencing of diseases a high priority, and we're now i think one of the leading states in detecting changes as they evolve in covid-19. we test about 15% of all positive covid tests. i think that's still one of the highest rates in the country. and we also monitor waste water for community detection. so dr. walensky, how would we -- or how can we expand genomic surveillance and expand those capabilities in order to try to stay ahead of existing but also future threats? covid-19 or otherwise. how do we close the gap between the states that are heavily sequencing and following this and those that aren't? >> yes, thank you for that and for your leadership in colorado in genomic sequencing. as i mentioned, you know, we need to have both numbers and breadth and geographic distribution in order to get a
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real good view of what's happening in genomic sequencing. we need to sample from state labs so we get samples from every lab. we also get samples from commercial labs which gives us a lot of volume. we have partnerships with 19 academic medical centers in order to do so. what we do and power our genomic sequencing is so we're able to detect a sequence that's present in less than .1%. we scale up based on the number of cases we have, we scale up or scale down. what we're able to do with omicron, when we saw the footprint of the pcrs, a similar footprint as alpha, we were able to do targeted enhances surveillance of sequences that had that initial footprint and able to identify sequences even before they reached that .1% threshold. as you said, we and scale this up in waste water. we're able to scale it up for purposes of antimicrobial
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resistance and other things which we're looking forward to doing now that we established this incredible capacity. >> right, great. perfect. ms. o'connell, i want to ask you a question in terms of, we talked a lot about the distribution of tests and whether it's schools or workplaces, hospitals. we talked about how at this moment we don't have enough tests out there. and we're not getting results quickly enough. in terms of the distribution of tests, on a national level, we're still obviously working on a system. i know the administration is hard at work on this, but some states like colorado already have systems in place where tests are being mailed directly to people in their home. and i guess i'm -- i don't know, is the federal government working with states like colorado in trying to look those
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systems already in place and how do we integrate the federal system with those states? >> that's terrific what colorado is doing. we have invested $29 billion with the states so they could set up such testing programs. however, they saw fit. and we are seeing states like colorado use those funds to be able to do exactly what we're hoping to do on a national level. we are in the process, as we talked about today, setting this up, working with the u.s. postal service as the federal government, we will allow american households to order and have them delivered to their house as well. i imagine that we will -- these will be in addition to what colorado is able to provide. and we want to have as many tests, of course, available to all americans as possible. so if colorado is already doing it, that's terrific. i'm sure we will learn some lessons from the experiences you had in your state and apply those to this national initiative. >> great. thank you on that.
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and then just real quickly, dr. fauci, we have heard from dr. walensky just talking about how to integrate the aggregation of large amounts of data. and we have had a discussion about israel versus south africa and it really is a question of how do we take -- my question is, how do we take information from global sources and, you know, learn from those countries who are ahead of us on the curve, make sure that we're learning from their experiences? and i think how can we do a better job working with our international partners to make sure that we are prepared for the next greek letter. >> yeah, thank you very much. excellent question. and we are just actually doing that. every week to ten days, i have a long phone call with chris witty and patrick valence, who are the
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two leading medical and scientific advisers to the prime minister of england to get a feel of what's going on there. we have regular phone calls with our israeli colleagues, and every saturday or sunday morning, depending upon what it is dr. walensky and i and others are on the phone with our south african colleagues. so we're in literally constant communication with them. >> great. thank you. >> thank you. senator marshall. >> the american people, my family, all of our families are struggling as this pandemic continues to drag on with no end in sight. the words i hear every day multiple times each day continue to resonate and echo in my mind as i sit here. words like i'm tired, confused, burnt out, scared, and frustrated. the list goes on. what's making the situation worse are the officials leading our nation's covid response going on national television and contradicting each other.
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and of course, some supreme court justices are spreading misinformation as well. dr. walensky, this past week, you recommended asymptomatic people be able to return to work after five days. but dr. fauci ambiguously corrected you on national television and suggested folks needed a test before return. how does that make you feel when dr. fauci or someone like justice soomayor upstages a previous statement of yours, blatantly contradicts and undermines your guidance and offers false claims that cause more confusion for the american people? >> thank you, senator. i have the great honor of leading the agency of 12,000 public health serviceants in this country, and we work collaboratively with tens of thousands of public health officials around the country to provide guidance. i also get to work with a covid-19 task force that is fult of a multidisciplinary group of people with diverse expertise from immunology to drug regulation to epidemiology.
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this science is moving really quickly, and i know you will appreciate that it's moving fast and it is changing. >> right. you're not answering my questions. i'll move on. the fda has recently set up protocols for monoclonal antibodies to be prioritized based on race. have they done a multiple regression analysis on race to see if it's indeed an independent factor. if hasn't, don't you think zip code would be more predictive? wouldn't it make more sense to priortize those antivirals to senior citizens and those with comorbidities, regardless of brace, especially if the analysis proves my opinion? dr. woodcock. >> what fda did was to recommend if, you know, that people at high risk would be candidates
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for these products. >> did you do a multi-regression analysis on this independent factor? >> we did not. >> okay. >> we did not. we don't make those kind of recommendations. we make -- >> you can do studies, right? the fda and cdc can do studies to see if it's a truly independent factor, or if not truly, it should be about your comorbidities and your age. so dr. fauci, according to forbes, you have an annual salary in 2020 was $434,000. you oversee over $5 billion in federal research grants. as the highest paid employee in the entire federal government, yes or no, would you be willing to submit to congress and the public a financial disclosure that includes your past and current investments? after all, your colleague, dr. walensky, and every member of congress submits a financial disclosure that includes their
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investments. >> i don't understand why you're asking me that question. my financial disclosure is public knowledge and has been so for the last 37 years or so, 35 years. >> the big tech giants are doing an incredible job of keeping it from being public. we'll continue to look for it. where would we find it. >> all you have to do is ask for it. you're so misinformed it's extraordinary. all you have to do is ask for it. >> this is a huge issue. wouldn't you agree with me that you have -- you see things before members of congress would see them. so that there's an air of appearance that maybe some shenanigans are going on. you know, i don't -- i assume that's not the case. >> what are you talking about? my financial disclosures are public knowledge and have been so. you are getting amazingly wrong
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information. >> so i cannot find them. where would they be if they're public knowledge? where? >> it is totally accessible to you if you want it. >> for the public. >> for the public. to the public. you are totally incorrect. >> senator marshall. senator marshall, dr. fauci has answered you. it is public information, and he's happy to give it to you if you would ask. senator moran. >> chairwoman, thank you. i know this has been talked about. i have watched a bit of the hearing from my office this morning and into this afternoon. but would you highlight for me, i suppose this is for dr. woodcock, lots of funding. i think adequate funding. certainly knowledge about winter months would bring an increase in cases. what's the challenge in not
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being better prepared for access to testing, in-home and elsewhere? and how soon will that change? >> i don't think that's -- i think that's a question for assistant secretary o'connell. but i would tell you fda has approved or authorized over 400 tests or collection systems just for covid. we have approved -- authorized 15 over the counter tests. but it's capacity that we're talking about here. production capacity. >> so there's no -- what you're telling me, dr. woodcock, is there's no problem with the fda approval of tests. it's the manufacturing process and the supply chain? >> we could do more with more resources. we have authorized over 2,000 different device products,
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including the 400 tests related products in two years so that's an incredible increase in the work load. we really appreciate the funding congress has provided. however, the test manufacturers, many of them give us incomplete results. we have to go back and forth with them. the i-tap program we're doing with nih for home testing i think will improve that tremendously. that's a big advance forward. but there's also the matter of production capacity with this huge surge and so many more people becoming infected. >> is there a separate fda results process in which the test is read and determined positive or negative? there's no challenges there in that process? >> that's what the i-tap program over at nih is doing.
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they're actually doing the laboratory and clinical testing for the manufacturers. and then they send us the data. and so it's standardized and it's a panel. and that is really accelerating our ability to get these authorized very quickly. as i said earlier, we have authorized them within two days of getting the data from the i-tap program. so that's a tremendous set-up that i think is really beneficial, where we have standardized testing by scientists and the government, and that enables the manufacturers to get their products through very fast. >> thank you. ms. o'connell. >> thank you, senator. and just to pick up where dr. woodcock left off, once those tests are authorized, asper reaches out to the manufacturers to make sure that we're optimizing the manufacturing capabilities. so that part is sort of a seamless process that we have. but all of the work we're doing in testing in this
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administration is in service of four priorities. one, to expand the number of testing sites that are available. two, to expand the number of tests that are available. that's the part that i'm working on to increase capacity. three, the kinds of tests that are available. that's a part dr. woodcock just discussed. and then to help lower the cost of tests. >> and is there -- is there a problem? i don't know whether the testing devices are manufactured domestically. do we have another challenge of the importation of tests, as we did with masks and gowns and gloves? >> we continue to look for tests wherever we can find them. and we have encouraged actually some test manufacturers that are approved in europe to apply for fda approval here in the united states. so i do anticipate we will have some importation of tests at some point. but we have used the defense production act authorities 12 times to support the domestic manufacture of tests and to
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priority rate those orders so we can increase the supplies and manufacturing capacity here in the u.s. >> in the third of a minute that i have left, we have changed, i think, our view on masks recently, and we're emphasizing n-95s. is there any intentions to -- is there a plan to manufacture additional 95 masks so they're more available? is there a way to make them more comfortable? i'll leave that -- that's the crux of my question. >> we continue to support the manufacture of n-95 masks. we have 737 million in the strategic national stockpile. all sourced from 12 domestic manufacturers. so we're continuing to support that. we are also in the process of putting out an agreement for warm base manufacturing, so we're able to keep this pucast that we currently have going, even when demand diminishes. so that's all under way right
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now. as far as fit and style and how they work, i'm sure, you know, colleagues at the table are probably have various pieces of their programs that might be participating to that effort and consulting with the manufacturers on how that will work. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> move to senator tuberville. >> i know there's plenty of misinformation on both sides, you know, when it comes to covid. but i would say this. the fearmongering on the left is -- i'll give you a couple questions here about this. has made the matters much worse. dr. fauci, i want to ask you this for my constituents back in alabama. ivermectin. my constituents read this, hear about it. 40-year drug, they call it a wonder drug. it's about a nickel a tablet. it's done wonders supposedly in india and several other places. and then you have this new antiviral pill that we're coming out, and my constituents are saying this is going to cost
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$500, $600, $700 each. could you give me a rundown on the difference in those two, what you think about them, get it on record here so i can tell me people back home, this is what dr. fauci says. >> sure. so paxlovid, the drug from fooisz, has shown in a randomized placebo controlled trial to be highly effective to the point of 89%. almost 90%. >> what's it called? >> paxlovid. it's made by pfizer. and it's been shown in a very well controlled randomized placebo controlled trial that if you take that drug compared to the placebo within the first three to five days, within the first three days, you have about an 89% chance of preventing you from going to the hospital or dying. there were no deaths in the paxlovid group, and there were several deaths in the placebo death. that's paxlovid.
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ivermectin has had noncontrol trials suggesting it might be effective, mostly anecdotal. the cdc -- excuse me, the nih guidelines panel have looked at the data and felt it is not sufficient evidence to say that it works or it doesn't. the w.h.o. recommends strongly against it and suggests that it might actually be harmful. the nih active studies are doing a whole bunch of studies with ivermectin as well as others to try and settle it once and for all, to prevent people from taking it if it doesn't work because it could be toxic. so there's a world of difference between ivermectin and paxlovid. >> but this is a 40-year drug. and we're talking about one that's just now coming on the market. so we actually know that much about this pfizer drug? i wish they would come up with a lot easier names. >> they always do that.
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they fool me too with the names, coach. but it is what it is. the fact is, i think it's kind of a miscomparison to say one is a 40-year drug and one is a drug that was just discovered. it was just discovered but it was shown in a very well controlled clinical trial to be highly effective. even though ivermectin is a good drug for some parasites, it's not been shown in a well controlled placebo controlled trial to be effective in covid. >> okay. thank you. dr. walensky, i don't know if anybody has asked this question. i want to get it clored up. our supreme court justices last week looking into the situation with the mandate, justice sotomayor said there's 100,000 children that are sick as we speak with omicron and a lot of them are serious and in hospital. is that true, true or false? >> i don't have the number of children in the hospital right now. it's likely less than 100,000. >> yeah, and justice breyer
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said, you know, if we continue to lay this ruling, that we're going to have 750,000 more that are not vaccinated infected a day. i mean, does that make sense to you? >> what i can tell you is our children between ages of zero and 4 are one of the only places where our hospitalization rates are currently rising and children who are in the hospital are generally unvaccinated. not uniformly, but generally unvaccinated. and that's true for not just our zero to 4, who are obviously ineligible, but also true for our 5 to 11-year-olds as well as 12 to 17-year-olds. >> thank you. thank you all for being here today. thank you very much. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you so much. i have one final question for ms. o'connell and dr. walensky. in the past, we are seen school districts that serve a significant number of students of color or those in low income or rural areas facing great
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challenges in accessing ressources. how is the federal government working now to make sure states are equitably distributing tests and necessary resources like masks to all school districts, particularly those that serve predominantly students from families with low income, students of color, or rural students? and ms. o'connell, i'll start with you. >> thank you, chair murray. equity is woven into all of the work we're doing in this response. it's something that we remain focused on, including making sure that schools across all states are able to access the tools and resources they need. we gave $10 billion as you know from the american rescue plan for schools to be able to set up their funding programs. we're also -- testing programs. we have also made it possible through operation expanded testing which dr. walensky can talk more about, where we have regional hubs where schools can contract directly with labs to run their programs for them. that was designed for schools
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that might not otherwise have resources to be able to manage a testing program on their own. in addition, we're making tests available through the federally qualified health centers and rural health centers, and we have done that with masks as well, earlier in the year. >> thank you. dr. walensky. >> maybe i'll just pick up exactly where o'connell has put down. so our i cap program, our increased testing program, does place tests in pharmacies in social vulnerable indices that are high by design. tests health care centers and community centers just as the assistant secretary mentioned. we also continue to support screening tests at no cost to child care centers, k-12 schools and congregant settings through the program assper mentioned. operation expanded testing, we prioritize high schools and all schools that have high social vulnerability, and we have on the website now that's active
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where you can enroll. >> thank you. senator burr, i understand you have two additional questions. >> a couple if i could, madam chair. this is for dr. woodcock and ms. o'connell. it's my understanding that prior to omicron, barta informed some therapeutic manufacturers they would no longer be supporting additional work on new therapies because there's no longer an unmet need, which may impact whether and how fda prioritizes reviewing such therapies. did barta and fda change course on this policy once the omicron variant was discovered in november? >> barta's decision to put that notification out was in light of the fact that the therapeutics development was moved over to operation warp speed, and barta was supporting the therapies that were being developed through the warp speed effort. it was a way of combining the funding that was available to be able to move the therapies through faster.
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barta never stopped supporting therapy work. but i'll let dr. woodcock. >> yeah, we still regard there is an extreme unmet medical need for therapeutics at most stages of the disease. particularly the late stages, where we still don't have interventions, so people are dying in the late stage of disease or getting into the icu, going on a ventilator. so of course, we have 670 inds we have been -- clinical protocols that are ongoing to my knowledge. the robust development is still ongoing in the therapeutic area. >> so how much funding has barta allocated to therapeutics this year, and how much is left to spend? >> i'll have to go back and check that on the actual development. we spent a lot of funds this
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year on the procurement of the therapeutics that are already been developed, but would be more than happy to bring that number to you and your staff. >> i'm talking about the development end of it. because there's a firm belief out there that barta went to the industry and said, we're not supporting this anymore. they didn't say this got moved over to operation warp speed, which by the way, doesn't exist anymore, but barta said we're not supporting therapeutics because there's not an unmet need. that's what the industry heard. i would love for you to clarify that for me. last thing, dr. woodcock. since we did discuss the point of care and at-home testing. i happened to come up with a chart that fda put out not long ago. let me just, and you're probably familiar with it. one ismolecular, one is antigen, and one is serology. for the molecular and antigen, if you test yes for point of
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care or at home, that kicks you to the right. the next box is high manufacturing capacity. if your answer is no there, it kicks you down to an fda intends to decline box. there's no option. so if you're not a high manufacturing test, then fda is going to decline to review. boy, i gotta tell you, i think this is a huge mistake. now, if you tell me that you've got a couple hundred tests that fall into the high manufacturing capacity right now at the fda, where you have got the luxury of being able to kick out new innovative companies that haven't solved their manufacturing yet by all means, tell me that's the case that there are a couple hundred. right now, ms. o'connell is
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struggling to buy 500 million tests, where 47, maybe 50 million there. that leaves another 450 million to purchase. and we're going to distributors trying to buy their inventory, not to manufacturers trying to buy their capacity. something's not right here, guys, on testing. and i will tell you, the current administration's chief of staff got it right in 2020, march, and he said testing is broken. testing is broken, testing is broken. i just say to all of you right now, testing's broken. and ms. o'connell, i think the responsibility falls to the asper. i wrote the law. if in the case of cdc they were the delay to begin with, but to acquire testing, that falls in your lane. and i for the life of me can't figure out after $82 billion, except for somebody sitting down and saying, well, we just don't
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need those tests, we don't need to buy them. how you could let abbott close two lines because there wasn't any business. these are some of the most premier manufacturers in the world world that we've let get out of the mass manufacturing of home test business. if i'm wrong, tell me i am. i respect all four of you in a huge way. but i also express my disapproval very quickly, and that's what i'm doing today. anything you want to add to that, ms. o'connell. >> thank you, ranking member, let me clarify the initial contracts you're speaking of toward the 500 million were the available inventory the be distributes have, the distributes contracts the contracts are being worked, you'll see the capacity quickly. we just haven't been able to draft the distributors but thee
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coming. >> my suggestion in the future, when you huddle inside the covid team, get the administration to refrain from making these proclamations until we got the product, until we know who negotiating, we're now three weeks since the president said we'll buy 500 million tests, we have 50 million contracts, i don't know how long until we get the rest of the contracts, this is not dissimilar since we said we'll boost everybody in america, yet we rolled it out jusz over 60 to start with, then bringing it down, now where we should have been on day one because we had the product available but listen, you guys have a tough job. and i don't know anything else congress can do than create the statutory frame work you can
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work in to do your job which exists or provide the funding to allow you to acquire. those are the only two things to do other than bitch and gripe when it doesn't happen when as quickly as we like but tony i really respect you and i'm sorry you and your family are going through what you're going through but please understand, we go through that every time we go home, with millions of people in north carolina, millions that believe the bad information that's out there, millions of people that have a loved one in the hospital but there's no monoclonals for them to take. millions of people who are unvaccinated, probably wish today they'd gotten vaccinated, probably wish they'd gotten boosted but they're now in the icu and their wife or husband or daughter is calling us and saying what do i do? so we're here to support. if there's a need, tell us, but
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don't think we're just going to sit here and print money without a full accountability of where it has gone and i hope the secretary is listening to that conversation today, senator blunt and i said give us a full accounting of the $82 billion and we'll entertain additional funding for testing, that was 10 days ago, i'm not sure when we're going to get it or if we're going to get it, but it is conditional and this is the most powerful person on the other side of the appropriations and i think she knows i'm seizure on this one. there's got to be accountability on the money and the way it's spent. thank you for being here, thank you madam chair woman. >> thank you, i want to truly thank all our witnesses today, dr. walensky, dr. fauci, we know this is a difficult, changing time and you've all been through it for a long time. i think you do understand the frustration, i'm sure you all
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have it as well, where we are, we all want to find solutions and we stand at your back to be able to provide those, but thank you so much for answering all our questions. this is really important conversation about the threat of the new covid variant or whatever the next one is and the pandemic response and we really appreciate the work you and all the people in your agencies do, so for any senators who wish to ask additional questions, questions for the record due in 10 business days, at 5:00 p.m. and with that the meeting is adjourned.
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