The House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (O&I) convened a hearing to examine the safety and effectiveness of, access to, and the public’s trust in prospective COVID-19 vaccines.
Throughout the hearing, Democrats criticized the Trump administration’s political interference at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), noting that the administration has contributed to public mistrust in COVID-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, Republicans blamed Democrats for causing the mistrust through their heightened scrutiny of the FDA. Republicans also criticized states (including California and New York) that have announced plans to conduct additional safety and efficacy reviews of FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines. Overall, the witnesses expressed confidence that existing safeguards at the FDA, particularly its career scientists, will ensure that the agency will only approve a COVID-19 vaccine that is safe and effective. The discussion also touched on the importance of engaging communities of color in clinical trials and potential challenges with vaccine storage and handling.
Lastly, E&C Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) agreed to work with Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) on obtaining temporary “provider status” for pharmacists, which would allow pharmacists to be reimbursed for administering COVID-19 vaccines under Medicare.