Jul 31, 2020
Dr. Fauci Opening Statement Transcript: Talks Vaccine During House Coronavirus Hearing
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s opening statement at the House coronavirus hearing on July 31. He said he is “cautiously optimistic” that there will be a safe vaccine this winter. Read the transcript here.
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Dr. Fauci: (00:00)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, ranking member Scalise, members of the committee. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss with you today the role of the National Institutes Of Health in a research endeavor to address COVID-19. Our strategic plan, which we put together several months ago, embargs on four separate points. The first is to improve fundamental knowledge of the virus and the biology of the virus and the response to the virus. This has led to a delineation of the cryo-EM structure of the famous now spike protein, which is the target of virtually all of the vaccines that are being produced today, in addition to delineate the nature of the receptor in the body to which the virus binds, very important in understanding the pathophysiology and pathogenesis. In addition, a number of natural history studies, including a study that was started in May to understand better the role of infection in children and what role they play in spreading the virus.
Dr. Fauci: (01:08)
In addition, we’ve been involved in the second component, which is the development of diagnostics and assays, one of which I’ll point out to you is the NIH rapid acceleration of diagnostics, referred to as RADx, including that that is aimed at underserved populations with a very large investment of money to develop point of care diagnostics, to facilitate even more our diagnostic capability.
Dr. Fauci: (01:37)
Next is the characterization and testing of therapeutics. It is well known now that over the past several weeks, there have been two therapeutics that have passed randomized placebo controlled trials for individuals late in the course of disease. One of these is remdesivir, a trial run by the NIH, which showed a statistically significant improvement in the time to survival in individuals who were hospitalized with pulmonary disease. That has now been part of the standard of care in individuals with moderate to advanced disease. In addition, a placebo controlled randomized trial of dexamethazone showed an improvement in death rate in a highly significant manner in individuals on respirators, as well as those requiring oxygen.
Dr. Fauci: (02:28)
And then finally, the development and testing of effective vaccines. Several months ago, we put together what we call a strategic approach to COVID-19 vaccine research and development. And the reason we did this is because there were multiple candidate vaccines that are moving along at a very rapid pace. And we wanted to make sure that they learned from each other. So we made standardized protocols, common data and safety monitoring boards, common primary and secondary end points, and common individual laboratory tests. There are three separate platforms that are being pursued with government help, nucleic acid, including the mRNA of Moderna, viral vectors such as adeno vectors and VSV and protein subunits. One of these is a trial that started this past Monday, the 27th, to beginning in a phase three trial. It’s a trial that will go over several months involving 30,000 individuals.
Dr. Fauci: (03:33)
We hope that as the time we get into the late fall and early winter, we will have, in fact, a vaccine that we can say would be safe and effective. One can never guarantee the safety or effectiveness unless you do the trial, but we are cautiously optimistic that this will be successful because in the early studies in human, the phase one study, it clearly showed that individuals who were vaccinated mounted a neutralizing antibody response that was at least comparable, and in many respects better, than what we see in convalescent serum from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19.
Dr. Fauci: (04:14)
As I mentioned, the phase three trial has already started. 30,000 individuals we are already starting to enroll. I might also conclude, members of the committee, to point out that there is a website called coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org where individuals can actually indicate their willingness to participate in the clinical trials and to make sure that we have a diverse representation. Already as of last night, there have been over 250,000 individuals who have registered their interest in being in these trials. And I just want to use my last couple of seconds to urge anyone who’s listening who wants to participate to please go to that website and register so that you can be part of the solution of this terrible scourge. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.