June 30, 2020
WASHINGTON – At the Republican leadership press conference today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), discussed a hearing he will chair on Thursday to receive an update on the administration’s efforts to develop a vaccine through Operation Warp Speed. Blunt also said the subcommittee will work to prioritize funding for testing, therapeutics, and a vaccine in the next coronavirus response bill.
Following Are Blunt’s Remarks:
“I think on that topic, we will be putting together a bill when we come back, so a month from now we should be in the final stages of getting that bill together. We’ll have more information than we have right now. I’ve already asked my appropriating subcommittee that does the health and education and labor appropriating to begin to put a package together that will ensure that we have more testing, that we continue to work on therapeutics, and we have the money we need to move forward with the vaccine.
“I think that Dr. Barrasso said a couple of times in meetings he and I were in, and so were the others here behind me, that the most important thing we do to resume normalcy is to get people back to school. You’re not going to do that, particularly in a residential setting, without millions of tests that people can take dozens of times. That’s very practical, it’s very possible.
“We’re going to have a hearing this Thursday with Dr. Collins from NIH and the head of BARDA, the investing group, and Dr. Redfield from CDC, to talk about how those rapid efforts moving forward will still produce safe tests, safe therapeutics, and maybe most importantly a safe vaccine. And our willingness to move forward before we know that all of these are going to make it to the final stage of approval, so that when we do have a final approval we have that particular vaccine already ready to get out.
“And one of the things I’m going to talk to Dr. Redfield about Thursday is after developing the vaccine, the next thing that maybe almost equally important, is a plan to get that vaccine out quickly and fairly in a way that people will think that the whole country is adequately and appropriately served by it.
“We’ll be doing that Thursday, we’ll be doing lots of other things this week and while we’re home to collect the information we need to have that next COVID package in mind when we get back here and I think the timing is going to be just about right for us to know what we need to know for a package that moves us into August, September, and October.”