Biden administration health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, are due to testify in the U.S. House of Representatives about vaccination efforts for the first time on Wednesday morning.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), as well as Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Peter Marks, who heads the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine center, will speak before the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The hearing is scheduled for 10:00am ET on Wednesday. The Energy and Commerce Committee will be streaming the hearing live on YouTube. It is titled: “Leading the Way Forward: Biden Administration Actions to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations.”
Both Fauci and Walensky have discussed the COVID-19 pandemic with reporters in press briefings since the Biden administration took over in January.
They are expected to face questions about how effective vaccines are against emerging variants in the U.S. and how close future vaccines are to being rolled out in the U.S.
Fauci is expected to talk about how each vaccine was developed and he will also discuss the monitoring of so-called “long COVID,” or PASC. He will also say the NIAID is developing early research into vaccines that will be effective against multiple COVID strains.
One part of his testimony reads: “So far, scientific evidence suggests that the COVID-19 vaccines distributed in the United States under FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) continue to be effective against these variants, but we must remain vigilant.
“NIAID is rapidly conducting research to better understand these emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2, how they interact with the immune system, and their implications for COVID-19 therapeutic and vaccine formulations.”
Walensky will discuss COVID variants and approach the issue of health equity, which she will say COVID has highlighted “long-standing systemic health and social inequities” and point to the disproportionate impact of COVID on racial and ethnic minority populations and other groups.
Currently, there are three vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. These are the jabs by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.
It remains to be seen whether other vaccines such as those by Oxford/AstraZeneca and Novavax will be authorized in the U.S.
The AstraZeneca jab is currently being used in more than 70 countries and has formed a large part of the U.K. inoculation campaign which has so far seen nearly 25 million people receive at least one dose of a vaccine out of a population of roughly 66.6 million.
The jab has recently run into issues in some other EU countries, however, where it has been suspended due to fears it causes blood clots. The European Medical Agency said on March 16 it believes the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks and it is continuing to investigate the concerns.