Takeaways from the Senate’s surreal virtual hearing on the U.S. coronavirus response
Lawmakers (virtually) grilled four top federal officials overseeing the Trump administration’s coronavirus response yesterday, and while there weren’t any highly charged moments, the Senate hearing offered some insight on whether it’s safe for the country to reopen. Appearing with FDA chief Stephen Hahn, CDC Director Robert Redfield, and HHS assistant health secretary Brett Giroir, NIAID’s Anthony Fauci was direct in telling senators not to expect a vaccine anytime soon. He also warned that the U.S. Covid-19 deaths — which have surpassed 80,000 — are likely undercounted. “Most of us feel that the number of deaths are likely higher than that number,” Fauci said. STAT’s Lev Facher has the six biggest takeaways from the hearing here.
Here’s what else is happening with the Covid-19 crisis:
- Following reports that the NIH terminated funding for a project in China that was investigating the risk of coronaviruses emerging from bats, the nonprofit Research!America sent a letter yesterday to HHS Secretary Alex Azar asking him to clarify the decision. “The abrupt termination of this grant has generated concern, not only because of the relevance of this research to COVID-19 and future pandemics, but because the lack of transparency surrounding the termination creates uncertainty about the integrity of federal grant-making,” the letter states.
- In a new STAT First Opinion, psychiatry resident Gabriel Felix writes about balancing his desire to wear a face covering in public to comply with Covid-19 regulations with his fear of being perceived as suspicious as a masked Black man. “My mask worries simply serve as another example of how Black people experience the world differently due to systemic racism,” he writes.
- PBS’ science show “NOVA” is premiering a one-hour documentary this evening called “Decoding Covid-19.” The film tells the story of the biology of the new coronavirus and follows many of the scientists who are involved in vaccine efforts against Covid-19. Watch the trailer and check your local listings here.
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