VIDEO RELEASE: As Daily COVID-19 Cases Top 50,000 in the U.S., Shaheen Questions Top CDC, NIH & HHS Officials on Trump Admin’s Plan to Develop & Distribute Safe & Effective Vaccine

July 02, 2020

 CJS at Operation Warp Speed hearing

Shaheen questions witnesses during the Senate Appropriations Hearing on Operation Warp Speed

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, questioned Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Gary Disbrow, Acting Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s ongoing effort to develop, manufacture and deliver 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021. The hearing comes as the public health crisis worsens across the U.S., with the country reaching a new record of 50,000 COVID-19 cases in a day this Wednesday, and as the death toll continues to rise.

During the hearing, Shaheen questioned the witnesses on how the administration will ramp up the domestic supply chain in order to deliver an eventual vaccine, whether agencies are researching whether PFAS exposure leads to heightened COVID-19 risks and what steps the administration will take to fairly prioritize and distribute a vaccine to the American people, particularly to those most vulnerable to the disease, such as nursing home residents. In New Hampshire, nursing home residents account for approximately 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths, the highest nursing home death rate in the country.

Watch the Senator’s questioning in full here.

Shaheen has worked to ensure the domestic supply chain has the means and resources needed to quickly build and distribute a potential COVID-19 vaccine. In April, Shaheen called on the administration to immediately address concerns regarding the domestic supply chain for hypodermic needles and syringes needed to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to the nation once one has been developed. In May, the Senator followed up by urging the administration to release a detailed strategy that provides this vaccine free of charge to all Americans. She also sent a letter to President Trump requesting that he take immediate action to increase the long-term domestic supply chain for PPE in the United States. In her letter, she noted that companies in New Hampshire were ready to work with the federal government to increase PPE production if provided the necessary investments.

Last week, Shaheen led a group of Senators calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to provide answers on the unique risks Granite Staters exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) may face amid the COVID-19 pandemic.