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Guthrie Leads First Health Subcommittee Hearing on COVID-19 in New Leadership Role

Washington, February 3, 2021 | S.K. Bowen (202-225-3501)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02) held his first Health Subcommittee hearing since being named Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee. The health care sector and federal health agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are under the Health Subcommittee’s jurisdiction.

During the hearing, Guthrie said the committee needs to prioritize quick and efficient distribution of vaccines. Additionally, the committee should examine ways to boost COVID-19 testing, expand use of therapeutics, and increase confidence in FDA-authorized vaccines. The hearing focused on how to increase COVID-19 vaccine distribution and testing, as well as strengthen the medical supply chain.

Witnesses for the hearing were public health experts, including Dr. Luciana Borio, former Acting Chief Scientist of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Greg Burel, former Director of the United States Strategic National Stockpile; and Michael O. Leavitt, former Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and former Governor of Utah.

Below are highlights from the Health Subcommittee hearing titled, “Road to Recovery: Ramping Up COVID-19 Vaccines, Testing, and Medical Supply Chain.”

Click HERE to watch Rep. Guthrie’s opening remarks at the Health Subcommittee hearing

Rep. Guthrie emphasizes the need to work together to defeat COVID-19

“Over 441,000 people have died from the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, which is greater than the number of American servicemembers we lost during World War ll. I know that all of us on this Committee are committed to stopping this horrible virus. Specifically, I think we must fully evaluate our country’s response efforts on what has worked and what lessons we have learned thus far during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our focus needs to be forward looking in order to make continuous improvements that will stop this virus. Each of us has a choice to make - we can stay in our camps and focus on ideological battles or we can sit at the negotiating table and get work done that the American people expect us to do during these challenging times.”

Rep. Guthrie disputes false claim that vaccine distribution is starting “from scratch”

“Let me be clear: we are not starting from scratch. Without Operation Warp Speed, we would not have two vaccines that are currently being administered to Americans, nor potentially additional vaccines that may be authorized by the FDA in the near future. The Biden Administration is taking credit for the pathway to 100 million vaccines in 100 days. However, two weeks into the Biden presidency, there have been around 52 million vaccines distributed and more than 32 million vaccines administered, thanks to the previous administration’s efforts. As we move forward with vaccine distribution, we will find ways to improve, and we should explore those. Let us not forget this is the fastest we have ever had a vaccine move through the development pipeline and come to market. We never cut any safety corners, despite the extraordinary speed, and that is a success that should be celebrated.”

Rep. Guthrie commends Operation Warp Speed

“From my background in manufacturing, I know it takes time, hard work, and detailed planning to get a manufacturing line up and going. Operation Warp Speed’s tireless work on supply chains and simultaneous manufacturing during clinical trials meant safe and effective vaccines that were administered to our health care heroes and vulnerable populations within a matter of days rather than months after receiving FDA authorization.”

Rep. Guthrie on keeping vaccine management close to communities

“Each state and some large jurisdictions have been given the opportunity to run their vaccine distribution as they believe is best for their residents. I’m not sure if anyone here is familiar with Utica, Kentucky. It’s a rural community in my district that I’m proud to represent. I think Frankfort, our state capital, and Daviess County can do a better job taking care of Utica than being run out of Washington, D.C. [by] a person that has probably never stepped foot there. While some states may need to reevaluate their strategy, there are many states that are doing quite well with vaccine distribution.”

Rep. Guthrie highlights innovation and expansion of COVID-19 testing

“In addition, I think it is key to remember the work FDA has done to authorize 320 COVID-19 tests. According to the COVID Tracking Project, this Monday, we had more than 1.6 million new tests reported in a day. On March 31st of last year, we had less than 116,000 new tests reported. Over the past year we have seen the development and authorization of rapid point-of-care diagnostics to reduce instances of delayed results, tests using saliva samples to eliminate the need for swabs in short supply, and even a test that is sold over-the-counter. While challenges remain, we have demonstrated that these types of private industry partnerships and the innovative products that are a result are essential to successfully responding to this pandemic.”

Rep. Guthrie on the need for oversight

“…as the Republican Leader of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee in the last Congress, I believe that oversight is a very important aspect of our response. We have passed around $4 trillion in COVID-19 aid alone. I have supported much-needed relief for American families, workers, and small businesses. We must ensure it is being used effectively and wisely.”

Click HERE to watch the full hearing.