Dec 22, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci Receives COVID-19 Vaccine Remarks Transcript December 22

Dr. Anthony Fauci Receives COVID-19 Vaccine Remarks Transcript December 22
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsDr. Anthony Fauci Receives COVID-19 Vaccine Remarks Transcript December 22

Dr. Anthony Fauci and HHS Secretary Alex Azar received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on December 22. Read the transcript of remarks on vaccine safety from health officials here.

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Speaker 1: (00:00)
… partners in medical discoveries since the hospital opened in 1953. Patients come from around the world to the NIH as partners in research and we currently have 1,600 clinical research studies underway at the clinical center. Discoveries emerging from NIH funded research results in better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease to help people live longer, healthier lives and reduce the burden of disease and disability. It is fitting that we gather here today on the NIH campus to administer vaccines designed to battle COVID-19, at the very place where much of the groundbreaking vaccine development work happened, both at the NIH Vaccine Research Center around the corner and here in the NIH Clinical Center.

Speaker 1: (00:52)
Additionally, the Clinical Center has several clinical trials to better understand COVID-19 and how best to treat it. This vaccine will help protect future patients and the healthcare staff who care for them. Today, we are kicking off the NIH COVID-19 vaccine program beginning with opening remarks and followed by vaccinations. Importantly, additional Clinical Center healthcare staff will be inoculated over the next days and weeks as we receive additional doses of the vaccine from state health departments. Today’s distinguished guests include HHS Secretary Alex Azar II, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, America’s doctor Dr. Tony Fauci, who was also the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the NIH Institute leading the COVID-19 response. We also have six of our frontline healthcare workers who we consider our greatest heroes. We are honored to have them here today and know that they represent the hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers across the nation who are selflessly caring for COVID-19 patients, often at great personal risk. NIH thanks all healthcare workers for their commitment and dedication during this difficult time.

Speaker 1: (02:15)
Now I invite the NIH director, Dr. Francis Collins to the stage for his opening remarks.

Dr. Francis Collins: (02:33)
Well, good morning to all of you on this historic day. The events of the last two weeks, where not just one, but two COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for emergency use, just 11 months after this virus first appeared on our radar, have been truly astounding. Many prayers have been lifted up over this terribly difficult year that an answer to this global pandemic might emerge from the dedicated work of our scientists. I will admit that quite a few of those prayers were mine, and now it is with great pride and joy and gratitude that I stand here today awaiting the historic moment when the first frontline healthcare workers at NIH, along with a few of our nation’s public health leaders, will receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Francis Collins: (03:28)
I’m proud to say that the messenger RNA technology used for both of the COVID vaccines, now authorized by FDA, rest on fundamental research conducted right here at NIH at our Vaccine Research Center a hundred yards over there, and right here at our own Clinical Center. In particular, the Moderna vaccine being administered here today arose from a close collaboration of the company with NIH, established even before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Not only has NIH contributed fundamentally to the research underlying the MRNA vaccines, we’re equally proud to have played a crucial role in supporting other COVID related research across the US. That includes forming an unprecedented partnership with industry called ACTIVE, to accelerate progress in therapeutics, as well as vaccines.

Dr. Francis Collins: (04:19)
And it includes a program called Red X that put NIH in the role of venture capitalists to identify and scale up novel technologies for COVID diagnostics. Speaking, though, of rising to the challenge this year, let me introduce you now to my friend and a wonderful colleague who’s been an absolutely vital leader in this effort, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. If it were not for the physical distancing requirements we are adhering to faithfully at NIH in the time of COVID, this auditorium would be packed with scientists rising to their feet and cheering for Tony’s leadership in science and in public communication. So welcome, Tony.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: (05:19)
Thank you, Francis, for that very kind introduction. I’m very pleased and honored to be here with you today to kick off this very important situation that we’re in right now is to initiating the vaccination by the Moderna product. As I was sitting there and listening to Francis, I could not recall something that happened a long time ago in this very auditorium where many of you are sitting right now. When I first came to the NIH as a fellow in training from my medical residency in the summer of 1968, I was introduced into the extraordinary that we are in right now, the National Institutes of Health, where so much of the research that has gone into conquering many of the diseases that we know now have really been addressed in such a way as they’ve had a major impact on the health of the nation.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: (06:14)
This is true of COVID-19. It is particularly meaningful to me as a member of the NIH for so many years to be receiving today, with Secretary Azar and Francis Collins, and several of our healthcare providers, a vaccine that essentially had its origination in the fundamental basic research that’s conducted here at NIH by our scientists, as well as by our grantees and contractors over the years. This, what we’re seeing now, is the culmination of years of research which have led to a phenomenon that has truly been unprecedented, and that is to go from the realization that we’re dealing with a new pathogen, a virus that was described in January of this year, to less than one year later to have vaccines that are going into the arms of so many people, including myself. And so I consider it an honor to be part of this process. So thank you very much. And now it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the Secretary of HHS, Alex Azar.

Secretary Alex Azar: (07:41)
Thank you everyone for joining us at the NIH today on this proud and happy occasion. I want to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Collins, Dr. Fauci, and so many members of the NIH team for their hard work throughout this pandemic, and especially on various elements of Operation Warp Speed. I also want to recognize and thank the staff of the NIH Clinical Center in particular, you have continued to provide care for patients who badly need it during this difficult time, and your work is heroic. I, myself am a patient of the NIH Clinical Center. I’m so pleased to be here for this official kickoff of the vaccine developed by the NIH vaccine research center, Moderna, Barta and other research partners. And I’m pleased to be getting this vaccine myself. We’ve all said it is nothing short of miraculous to have a safe and effective vaccine within one year of a novel virus becoming known to the world. But when we need a medical miracle, we know where to look. We look to the brilliant, dedicated scientists at the NIH, and we look to passionate, relentless researchers at America’s innovative biotech companies. As a member of the HHS family, it fills me with great pride that the NIH and other parts of HHS played such a significant role in developing this vaccine, which will save thousands and thousands of lives and help bring this dark chapter to an end. In the long and storied history of the NIH, this is one of your finest accomplishments.

Secretary Alex Azar: (09:13)
I also want to recognize the years of work and investment that went into delivering this vaccine. It took more than just one remarkable year, but years of dedication to develop the MRNA vaccine technology that many once considered a long shot. Once we have defeated this pandemic, I believe that both the success of Operation Warp Speed and the MRNA platform technology pioneered by NIH and Barta should reinvigorate our optimism about the frontiers of medical science and how we can bring the public and private sectors together to tackle our toughest challenges.

Secretary Alex Azar: (09:51)
When I look back on my time at HHS, putting together Operation Warp Speed will be one of my proudest memories. Not only because OWS vaccines will save lives, but because they have reminded Americans to think big.

Secretary Alex Azar: (10:03)
… lives, but because they have reminded Americans to think big. When the government and industry charged together toward a really bold goal, we can achieve unbelievable things. I know that these kinds of efforts have been a focus for Dr. Francis Collins. The active partnership that he mentioned, which he has spearheaded under OWS involves more than 20 pharmaceutical companies, other government agencies and other partners. And the NIH has also continued to expand its Accelerating Medicines Partnership for other serious health challenges like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

Secretary Alex Azar: (10:34)
To close, I will note that as extraordinary as this scientific achievement is, getting this vaccine is more or less just like any other vaccine we receive. We have to follow the right mask-wearing and social distancing precautions today, but otherwise, this is just like NIH healthcare workers or HHS employees getting their annual flu shot.

Secretary Alex Azar: (10:55)
Americans should also know that this vaccine has been through the kind of searching and independent review that they expect for any drug or vaccine at the Food and Drug Administration. I made it a personal priority to ensure that we were not cutting any corners in this development process, that the standards and data being used were fully transparent and that the final decisions made on these vaccines were made by the same career FDA scientists who would make the decisions on any other vaccine.

Secretary Alex Azar: (11:27)
I’m honored to be receiving this vaccine today and Americans can be confident in this vaccine and each vaccine the FDA authorizes for COVID-19. These vaccines are going to save so many lives and help bring this pandemic to an end. Thank you all for having me here today and on behalf of a grateful country, thank you to everyone at the NIH for your work this year.

Colleen McGowan: (12:04)
I’d now like to introduce Dr. Heike Bailin who is the acting chief of the NIH Occupational Medical Service, who will be administrating the vaccine today to our participants, and she is assisted by nurse practitioner, Judy Chen. Our first healthcare worker to be vaccinated is Ebeneezer Mienza, a respiratory therapist. He has been here for 23 years. Ebe, while we set up, love to have you share with us why you decided to be vaccinated today.

Colleen McGowan: (12:53)
So this will be one of two doses that everyone will be receiving. There’s going to be a 28-day interval between doses. So this is part of the consenting process that everyone will go through. So Ebe, will you share with us why you’re getting vaccinated today?

Ebeneezer Mienza: (13:36)
Well, since this vaccine is about saving lives, my job as a respiratory therapist [inaudible 00:13:44] myself and [inaudible 00:13:49] of this pandemic. Therefore, I cannot be more than happy about historic moment.

Colleen McGowan: (13:56)
Thank you for being part of this historic moment.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (13:57)
[inaudible 00: 04: 25].

Colleen McGowan: (15:06)
Okay, wonderful. Great. The first NIH-er [inaudible 00:05:35]. Thank you so much. So as Ebeneezer makes his way down the stage, our next person who will be vaccinated is Carlene Samedi, and she is a nurse in the clinical center’s procedures unit. She’s been here for about 15 years. Now each of the participants today did get a fact sheet on the Moderna vaccine ahead of time, so they had a chance to read what it’s all about as well as the dosing that I described earlier about having a second dose in 28 days.

Colleen McGowan: (16:18)
At the conclusion of everyone getting vaccinated, they will be going to another location to be observed for about 30 minutes. I want to make sure there are no adverse reactions to anyone. So Carlene, could you tell us a little bit about why you decided to be vaccinated today?

Carlene Samedi: (16:38)
Well, for me it was pretty easy. I’m a healthcare worker, [inaudible 00:06:46].

Colleen McGowan: (16:53)
Great. Protecting yourself, and your patients, and your healthcare workers. Wonderful.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (16:58)
[inaudible 00:07:05].

Carlene Samedi: (17:10)
Yes, I do.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (17:10)
Any concerns or questions at this point?

Carlene Samedi: (17:13)

Dr. Heike Bailin: (17:26)
[inaudible 00:17:17]. And which arm [crosstalk 00:17:27].

Carlene Samedi: (17:26)
Thank you.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (17:26)
[inaudible 00:18:23].

Carlene Samedi: (17:26)
Thank you. Appreciate it.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (17:26)
Okay, good.

Colleen McGowan: (18:37)
Next we have Dr. Jeff Strich, who is a critical care medicine physician in the clinical center. He has a background in infectious diseases. He’s also a commissioned corps officer, so he’ll be in his uniform today.

Judy Chen: (18:50)
When is your date of birth?

Dr. Jeff Strich: (18:50)

Judy Chen: (18:50)
Which one would you like?

Dr. Jeff Strich: (18:50)

Judy Chen: (18:50)

Colleen McGowan: (19:05)
So Jeff, can you tell us a little bit about why you’re deciding to be vaccinated today?

Dr. Jeff Strich: (19:09)
Sure. Really. First of all, I’m thankful to be getting the vaccine today. It’s really, I think, to help protect my patients who I see every day who don’t have COVID, to protect my colleagues who are there on the front lines with us every single day, and I had to protect my family when I get home. And ultimately the goal is to break the transmission cycle so we can get over the pandemic.

Colleen McGowan: (19:29)
Well said. Thanks for sharing.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (19:36)
Thank you. Good morning, Dr. Strich, how are you?

Dr. Jeff Strich: (19:36)
Good. Thank you.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (19:38)
So you’ll be getting the Moderna vaccine under the emergency use authorization.

Dr. Jeff Strich: (19:48)

Dr. Heike Bailin: (19:48)
We drew up some [inaudible 00:19:47], and I’m going to use the left arm. And I can help you pull that up. As long as I get some muscle weight, there you go.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (20:02)
As long as I get some muscle, right? There you go. If you can hold it right there, that’d be great.

Dr. Surish: (20:06)

Dr. Heike Bailin: (20:53)
Now, just relax. Okay. Just hold it one more second. Great. Thank you so much.

Dr. Surish: (21:01)
It’s all right. Thank you.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (21:02)
[crosstalk 00:21:02]

Dr. Surish: (21:02)
Thank you.

Colleen McGowan: (21:11)
Thanks Dr. [Surish].

Dr. Surish: (21:12)

Speaker 2: (21:15)
[inaudible 00:21:15]

Dr. Surish: (21:17)
Appreciate it, thank you.

Colleen McGowan: (21:20)
Our next healthcare worker is [Therese 00:21:22] Kent. Therese is a nurse practitioner in the critical care medicine area. Thanks for being here today, Therese. Tell us a little bit about why you’re deciding to get vaccinated today.

Therese Kent: (21:51)
Well thanks for having me. I am incredibly grateful to get this vaccine today. As my colleagues have said we protect our patients and our fellow staff when we protect ourselves. I truly hope this gives hope to others who have suffered so much this year, that hope is on the way, the vaccine is here.

Colleen McGowan: (22:16)
Thank you, Therese.

Therese Kent: (22:20)
Thank you.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (22:20)
We a spoke a little bit earlier also. Thank you Miss Kent for being here. Left arm.

Therese Kent: (22:25)

Dr. Heike Bailin: (22:26)
Thank you for holding it. You’ve done this a couple of times before?

Therese Kent: (22:29)

Dr. Heike Bailin: (22:42)
Already here. Okay, all right, a little pinch.

Therese Kent: (23:04)
[inaudible 00:23:04]

Dr. Heike Bailin: (23:04)
Not too bad. All right, thank you so much. Like we said, the phone number in case there are any issues later.

Therese Kent: (23:16)
Thank you.

Speaker 2: (23:17)
[crosstalk 00:23:17]

Therese Kent: (23:24)
Great, thank you.

Colleen McGowan: (23:26)
Next. We have Dr. Neelam Giri, who is a physician from the National Cancer Institute. She also volunteers at the NIH COVID-19 symptomatic car line, and she works out in the elements to make sure we’re all safe, in addition to her regular job.

Dr. Neelam Giri: (23:44)
Thank you.

Colleen McGowan: (23:44)
Thank you.

Dr. Neelam Giri: (24:02)
Thank you.

Colleen McGowan: (24:03)
Thank You. Can you tell us why you’re getting vaccinated today?

Dr. Neelam Giri: (24:06)
Thank you. I’m honored to be the first few in line to be vaccinated to protect myself and everyone around me, and to be part of this campaign to end the pandemic.

Colleen McGowan: (24:19)
Thank you.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (24:20)
Thank you. Thank you for being here. I’m sorry, I didn’t catch which arm you want. Left arm?

Dr. Neelam Giri: (24:26)
Left arm.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (24:27)
Okay. I’ll just make sure we get the muscle. You read the papers that you were given?

Dr. Neelam Giri: (24:36)
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yep.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (24:37)
Any questions or concerns? [crosstalk 00:24:41] That’s okay. We’re just on camera, not to worry, you can scream. All right, a little pinch here. If anything comes up, please do call. Okay, thanks for everything you’ve done for us today.

Dr. Neelam Giri: (25:19)
Thank you. Thank you.

Colleen McGowan: (25:29)
Our final healthcare worker today is Naomi Richardson, and she is a nurse who’s been working at the clinical center for about a year. She works with COVID-19 patients on the Special Care Studies Unit.

Speaker 2: (25:53)
[inaudible 00:25:53]

Naomi Richardson: (25:55)
Naomi Richardson.

Colleen McGowan: (26:02)
Naomi, tell us why you’re being vaccinated today.

Naomi Richardson: (26:05)
Well, I work directly with COVID patients, so I felt I have an opportunity. Why not?

Colleen McGowan: (26:11)
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Thank you for doing that.

Naomi Richardson: (26:16)
[inaudible 00:26:16]

Colleen McGowan: (26:16)
Thank you for taking care of COVID patients.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (26:16)
Okay. Any questions, concerns at this point? All right, you will be getting the Morderna vaccine. You’ve read the information, you know how to get in touch with us afterwards?

Naomi Richardson: (26:31)
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Heike Bailin: (26:31)
Excellent. Thanks for helping out. You must have done this a couple times before?

Naomi Richardson: (26:40)
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Heike Bailin: (26:41)
Okay, a little pinch. Thanks for holding that up. Okay.

Naomi Richardson: (27:15)
Thank you.

Colleen McGowan: (27:20)
A round of applause for all of our healthcare workers. Our next participant is Secretary Azar.

Speaker 2: (27:39)
[inaudible 00:27:39]

Secretary Alex Azar: (27:41)
June 17th, ’67.

Speaker 2: (27:45)
[inaudible 00:27:45]

Secretary Alex Azar: (27:45)
Left arm please. Okay.

Colleen McGowan: (27:46)
So happy to have you join us today Secretary. You shared some of your reasons for being here today, but can you tell us a little bit in your own words of why you’re getting vaccinated today?

Secretary Alex Azar: (27:54)
Sure. As Secretary, it’s on my authority that these vaccines are authorized, and I want the American people to know that I have absolute and complete confidence in the integrity and the independence of the processes used by the FDA to approve these vaccines. That I have complete confidence in the safety and efficacy of these vaccines, and I am just so grateful to NIH, and Moderna, and all the participants at Operation Warp Speed for bringing us to this point where now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel from this dark period. So thank you.

Colleen McGowan: (28:29)
Thank you.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (28:29)
Thank you Mr. Secretary.

Secretary Alex Azar: (28:29)
Thank you.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (28:34)
Any questions or concerns?

Secretary Alex Azar: (28:36)

Dr. Heike Bailin: (28:37)
All right. Just one second, just a little bandaid just in case it bleeds. Thank you so much, sir.

Secretary Alex Azar: (29:14)
Thank you. And thank you to NIH.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (29:24)
That’s your return card.

Colleen McGowan: (29:29)
Next we have Dr. Tony Fauci.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: (29:30)

Speaker 2: (29:31)
[inaudible 00:29:31] your birth date?

Dr. Anthony Fauci: (29:31)

Speaker 2: (29:31)
Okay, and which arm would you like? [inaudible 00:29:40]

Dr. Anthony Fauci: (29:31)

Speaker 2: (29:39)

Colleen McGowan: (29:46)
Many in our nation are saying, “If Dr. Fauci gets the vaccine, I’m going to get the vaccine.” Tell us a little bit of why it’s important.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: (29:53)
Well for me it’s important for two reasons. One is that I’m an attending physician here on the staff at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, and so I do-

Dr. Anthony Fauci: (30:03)
… the staff at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, and so I do see patients. But as important or more important is as a symbol to the rest of the country that I feel extreme confidence in the safety and the efficacy of this vaccine. And I want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated so that we could have a veil of protection over this country that would end this pandemic.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (30:29)
Thank you, Dr. Fauci, for coming today. Any last minute questions, concerns?

Dr. Anthony Fauci: (30:35)

Dr. Heike Bailin: (30:39)
[inaudible 00:30:39]. Make sure I get a good intramuscular injection here. Thanks for helping out. A little pinch. [inaudible 00:31:04] before here. Thank you so much.

Colleen McGowan: (31:24)
Next. We have Dr. Francis Collins. Dr. Collins. Tell us about why you’re getting vaccinated today.

Dr. Francis Collins: (31:58)
Well, it’s an incredible privilege to serve as the director of the National Institutes of Health, where so much of this work has been happening over the course of this tumultuous year. I get to talk a lot about these vaccines and their promise for ending this terrible global pandemic. But it’s one thing to hear me talk about it, it’s another to have me roll up my sleeve and say, “I believe that this is the way we’re going to get through this.” This is something that the evidence has shown in rigorous scientific analysis to be safe and effective. So I’m rolling up my sleeve and I’m saying Dr. Baylin, bring it on.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (32:37)
All right. Well, thank you so much. Thanks for coming and showing us the way. Little pinch here.

Dr. Francis Collins: (33:06)
Are you done yet?

Dr. Heike Bailin: (33:07)
I just got lucky.

Dr. Francis Collins: (33:11)
That was no problem, people.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (33:15)
Excellent. Thank you very much sir. And Ms. Jan is going to give you a couple of papers [inaudible 00:33:24].

Dr. Francis Collins: (33:23)
Thank you. And let me just say a word of, thank you to Colleen McGowan, who has served as our emcee for this historic occasion and who is now getting herself in line to be the next person to receive the vaccine. So Colleen is going to tell us in a minute why she decided to get vaccinated. Now that you’ve quizzed everybody else, I get to quiz you.

Colleen McGowan: (34:10)
So I’m a mother of two children. So I think it’s important as a mom to show other mothers that this is an important thing for us to do for our children. I’m also hoping to chronicle this on Facebook for all my naysayer friends to show them that it’s safe and effective.

Dr. Heike Bailin: (34:25)
Okay. Thanks for coming, hoping to show us the way as well. Okay. Any last minute questions or concerns? Okay. You’re of course, wearing the ideal shirt. I’m just going to put a little bandaid on there. Okay. Super, thank you. [inaudible 00:35:15].

Dr. Francis Collins: (35:20)
Well, thank you everyone for joining us today. This clinical center has been referred to for its 67 year history as the House of Hope. It’s been home to countless medical advances, many in vaccine research. Today represents yet another profoundly significant historical moment for us. It’s deeply gratifying to have these halls at NIH, now take part in the light that’s starting to appear at the end of a long dark tunnel called COVID-19.

Dr. Francis Collins: (35:54)
A light made possible by the power of NIH Science and our many partners. So as a closing, prayer of gratitude at this season of giving, I don’t think I can do better than the words of David from Psalm 103, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. Who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles. Bless the Lord, oh my soul.” And the people all said, “Amen.” Our event is concluded. I want to wish each and every one of you and your loved ones, a most happy and yes, a most healthy holiday season. We are adjourned.

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