May 07, 2020

Senator Hassan Emphasizes Importance of Improving Accuracy of COVID-19 Tests, Planning Now for the Manufacturing and Distribution of Vaccines

Senator Hassan Spoke Virtually During a Senate HELP Committee Hearing on “Shark Tank” Initiative to Improve Testing Availability Through Public-Private Partnerships

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan today emphasized the importance of improving the accuracy of COVID-19 tests and planning now for the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing focused on the “Shark Tank” initiative to help improve testing availability through private-public partnerships.

 

To watch the Senator’s questioning, click here.

 

Senator Hassan urged panelists and committee members to not lose focus on future needs – calling for a hearing focused on vaccine production and distribution.

 

In my state there is a manufacturer of hypodermic needles who says they have not been receiving the kind of purchase orders or directives from the federal government that will allow them to have the kind of volume of hypodermic needles on hand when we are hoping this vaccine might be ready,” Senator Hassan said. “I hope very much that we will have a hearing just on vaccines and the manufacturing and supply chain that we will need to have up and ready because the administration has been slow to respond to the needs for testing and personal protective equipment, and we need to learn from those mistakes and avoid this situation in the future.”

 

Senator Hassan then questioned Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, on how the government can ensure that the companies funded by taxpayers dollars are producing accurate, high-quality tests. The Senator’s question follows up on concerning reports that suggest that some COVID-19 tests are returning inaccurate results.

 

Dr. Collins responded, "Fairly early in that pathway the technology has to be validated, that is, it has to be tested against a variety of gold standard samples of varying degrees of the presence of the virus to see whether it is sensitive enough to be able to detect the virus when it's there and specific enough so that it doesn’t give a false positive on a sample that has no virus in it. That's absolutely essential. Anything that fails at that point will basically fall out of the tank and will not be taken forward.”

 

Widespread access to testing is key to reopening the economy and addressing this pandemic, and Senator Hassan has been pushing the administration to ramp up the production and distribution of COVID-19 tests as well as necessary medical supplies. Yesterday, Senator Hassan participate in a virtual roundtable discussion where she stressed the importance of massively increasing the nation’s daily testing capacity in order to safely reopen America’s economy. Senator Hassan also recently called on the Trump administration to develop a comprehensive national strategic plan of action to ensure states have sufficient tests to safely re-open. Additionally, Senator Hassan joined her colleagues in introducing legislation that lays out a framework for an effective COVID-19 response by federalizing and adding critical oversight and transparency to the supply chain for medical supplies and equipment.

 

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