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Kuster Questions Public Health Experts on Plans for COVID-19 Vaccine in Virtual Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing

**Watch Rep. Kuster’s line of questioning here.**

Today, Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) took part in a virtual Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing entitled, “Pathway to a Vaccine: Ensuring a Safe and Effective Vaccine People Will Trust.” In the hearing, Members examined the safety and efficacy, accessibility to, and the public’s trust in potential vaccines for COVID-19.  In response to a question from Rep. Kuster on the lessons learned about mass distribution of a vaccine from past vaccination programs, one of the witnesses, Dr. Ali S. Khan, M.D., MPH, MBA, explained that it starts with appropriate messaging and good planning. In June, Kuster introduced legislation to expand the United States’ manufacturing capacity and require the Trump Administration to begin planning for a COVID-19 vaccine immediately.

During the hearing, Kuster and her committee colleagues heard from Dr. Helene Gayle, M.D., MPH, Co-Chair of the Committee on Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Dr. Ashish K. Jha, M.D., MPH, Dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University; Dr. Ali S. Khan, M.D., MPH, MBA, Dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center; Dr. Mark McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., Founding Director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University, and Dr. Paul A. Offit, M.D., Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. According to the Pew Research Center, the politicization and the race to produce a vaccine has had a dramatic effect on the public’s openness towards a future vaccine, with the percentage of people who said they would get the vaccine if it were available today dropping from 72 percent in May to just over 50 percent currently. 

“Developing a safe, effective vaccine is vital to putting the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, but a vaccine will only be half the battle,” said Kuster. “Once we have an approved vaccine, we will still face the formidable challenge of distributing hundreds of millions of doses around the country, as well as reassuring Americans that they can trust the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. This will be an unprecedented effort, and we must rely on science - not politics - throughout this process. I appreciate hearing from all of the experts today who are dedicated to this vital undertaking. I look forward to our continued work together to support science and combat political interference so that the American public can have the utmost confidence in a future COVID vaccine.” 

A member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations and the Subcommittee on Health, Kuster has been outspoken on the need for a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine. Earlier this year, Kuster and Hakeem Jeffires introduced the Coronavirus Vaccine Development Act, which requires the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to take steps to expand and enhance our nation’s manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines and products necessary to administer the vaccines. In July, Kuster participated in a virtual Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on Operation Warp Speed, where she questioned drug companies about developing and manufacturing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. 

Rep. Kuster’s line of questioning can be viewed here, and the full hearing is available here.