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Blunt: Senate’s Targeted COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes Critical Funding for Testing, Vaccine Development & Distribution

September 09, 2020

WASHINGTON  At the weekly Senate Republican Leadership Press Conference today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) urged support for the targeted coronavirus relief bill the Senate will vote on tomorrow. The bill includes critical resources for the nation’s coronavirus response efforts like testing, and vaccine development and distribution. Blunt also announced that 16 coronavirus tests have advanced through the Shark Tank-like program at NIH, which he and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) created to speed up the development of new COVID-19 tests that can deliver millions of quick, accurate results every month.

Following Are Blunt’s Remarks:

“Well, the targeted bill that we’re for, you’ve heard the list already. Back to work, back to school, back to child care. Senator Ernst and Senator Loeffler had legislation on that. We had it in our original bill, we’ve got twice as much money for child care assistance as the Democrats had in the HEROES Act.

“But also back to better health. The shark tank idea, I talked to Dr. Collins at NIH earlier today. Sixteen different tests now have gotten through the shark tank, and advancing to more production. They believe, out of the shark tank, there will be the capacity for 60 million tests a month by October.

“Abbott Labs announced independently that they will be producing 40 million tests a month by October. And so 100 million tests a month gets us to the test that millions of people can take dozens of times. Whether that’s at work or at school or on a campus, all that likely possible in a much quicker way than it would have been.

“But we still need the money we’re appropriating in this bill for more vaccine development, more manufacturing, and more distribution. To have a vaccine and not be able to get it out there would be a huge mistake. 

“At a July 2nd hearing that I chaired, I challenged CDC and others to have a plan by October 1. It looks like they’re going to miss that but they’re only going to miss it by a month. They’ve asked the states now to respond to the framework they’ve put together for their state plans during the month of October.

“And there’s no reason to wait until you have a vaccine to have a plan to distribute the vaccine or have a priority of how you’re going to allow people to be first in line for that vaccine. 

“We need those things to happen before we have a vaccine. I’m glad to see the administration moving toward a plan in place by November 1, no matter when the vaccine is available. But now almost everybody thinks it will be available in significant numbers right around the first of the year.

“But then it’s still going to take some weeks and months for enough people to have had the vaccine that we’ve got societal immunity to this disease.

“So tests are still going to matter. But how you get that vaccine out, who gets it, really matters. I’m glad that, we’re a little beyond the deadline I would have liked to have seen, but certainly a reasonable deadline to have a plan to distribute the vaccine before you have the vaccine.”



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