Greg Walden Calls for Safe, Effective, Accessible COVID-19 Vaccine
Today, Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) delivered remarks at a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing entitled, “Pathway to a Vaccine: Efforts to Develop a Safe, Effective and Accessible COVID-19 Vaccine.”
Walden, the Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has led efforts to closely examine the current issues related to COVID-19 and how to best prepare for an uptick in cases at the same time that flu season hits.
“Last month, we released a report with recommendations on the first pillar of our work, focused on COVID-19 testing and surveillance. Earlier this month, Committee Republicans released the second pillar, focusing on vaccines and therapeutics. The report includes a series of important recommendations that officials should consider to better position the country to produce and distribute vaccines and therapeutics,” said Walden.
Walden also praised the extensive efforts led by the federal government, in partnership with the private sector, to develop medical countermeasures for COVID-19, including President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed.
“Operation Warp Speed facilitates, at an unprecedented pace, the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. One of the many goals of Operation Warp Speed is to have as much as 300 million doses of a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 available to Americans by January 2021,” said Walden.
He continued on, emphasizing the unprecedented speed in identifying vaccine candidates and moving into clinical trials.
“To put it simply—this could not be done without the private sector and they have been an integral part of this herculean effort. The collaboration we have seen over the past few months between the federal government and the private sector is extraordinary and I commend these efforts,” said Walden.
During the hearing, Walden made it clear that the unprecedented speed will not mean sacrificing safety or efficacy.
“Once a COVID-19 vaccine is proven safe and effective, and is authorized or approved by the FDA, we want Americans to feel confident in getting a vaccine. This is also vital when thinking about the fast-approaching fall and the intersection of COVID-19 and the influenza season,” said Walden.
Walden then highlighted the critical need for ensuring access to the vaccine, especially for rural communities like much of Oregon’s Second District.
“We need to ensure not only that a vaccine is available, but also that it is accessible. Rural communities frequently find themselves on the outside looking in. When it comes to COVID-19, no one should be left behind. As you all continue your work to provide a safe and effective vaccine, I ask that you also take into consideration the need for a robust manufacturing and distribution process capable of providing this vaccine in a timely manner to all Americans from every walk of life,” said Walden.
Walden concluded by emphasizing to need to ensure there are a sufficient amount of ancillary supplies, such as glass vials, in order to package and distribute vaccines to Americans.
“This is another issue we need to be taking action on now to ensure availability of an authorized or approved vaccine to Americans as quickly as possible,” said Walden.
Watch Walden’s remarks here.