Commitment stays strong to develop COVID vaccine

Augusta Chronicle
U.S. Rep Rick W. Allen
September 20, 2020

It’s been a tough year for us all, especially American workers and families whose businesses and livelihoods were devastated by the impact of COVID-19. Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats have made their radical agenda clear: Instead of working on bipartisan solutions to address the pandemic, they’re focused on defunding our police, dismantling our Constitution, and destroying our economy and our standing in the world.

Recently, House Republicans launched our Commitment to America, because we believe this is still the greatest nation in the world – and that it’s worth fighting for. Specifically, we commit to working on policy solutions that will restore our way of life, rebuild the greatest economy in the world, and renew the American Dream.

Our commitment starts with developing a safe and effective vaccine. Fortunately, our nation is home to the best scientists, doctors and manufacturers in the world who are working tirelessly toward this goal. Under the direction of President Donald Trump, the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies have launched Operation Warp Speed, which aims to develop 300 million doses of a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021.

This effort is funded through $10 billion awarded when Congress passed the CARES Act, which I was proud to support in the U.S. House of Representatives, and other supplemental legislation. Thanks to this funding, the federal government is able to partner with private vaccine manufacturers to quickly and safely develop and manufacture a vaccine.

Some in the mainstream media and on the far left want you to believe this process is cutting corners, but that is far from the truth. I recently received a briefing from my colleagues in the House GOP Doctors Caucus, a group of lawmakers with various medical backgrounds, who provided an in-depth breakdown of vaccine development.

For typical vaccine development, steps occur one at a time. Under Operation Warp Speed, vaccine testing, regulatory approval and manufacturing are allowed to occur simultaneously. What would normally take 10 to 15 years to develop a vaccine will now only take mere months.

Though the timeline is accelerated, Operation Warp Speed is not eliminating any steps -- it is simply allowing them to occur at the same time. All potential COVID-19 vaccines are undergoing the same rigorous testing just as any other vaccine would, but we will have a vaccine faster than ever before thanks to American ingenuity.

Operation Warp Speed is making great progress, with three promising vaccine candidates already in the final stage of clinical trials. Thanks to the courage and selflessness of thousands of volunteers, we will be able to determine which candidate is the most successful.

We’re also working on COVID-19 therapeutics to improve outcomes and help patients recover faster. As of June 30, more than 590 drug development programs are in planning stages, more than 310 trials are being reviewed, and five COVID-19 treatments are currently authorized for emergency use -- including Remdesivir. While every life is precious, the mortality rate has declined by 40% since February, which is encouraging.

There is still a long road ahead as we recover from the impact of this pandemic, both socially and economically, but I am so proud of how the American people have continued to adapt and innovate over the past few months.

While right now we have a new “normal,” I am committed to working alongside President Trump and am confident that we will develop a safe vaccine in record speed so we can restore our way of life and rebuild our economy.

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