Fauci on limiting protests: "I'm not in a position to determine what the government can do in a forceful way"
From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday it is not his position to determine what the government can forcefully do, after being asked if the government should limit protesting during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a lengthy and tense exchange, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked Fauci during a House subcommittee hearing if the government should limit the protests that have been going on for months now across cities in the US.
"I'm not in a position to determine what the government can do in a forceful way," Fauci replied to Jordan.
The congressman doubled down, arguing that Fauci has given his opinion on a number of things, from baseball to dating, adding that the government moved to stop people from going to work and has limited church services to avoid the spread of the virus.
After a back and forth, Fauci said, "I'm not gonna opine on limiting anything. I'm telling what it is the danger. And you can make your own conclusion about that. You should stay away from crowds, no matter where the crowds are."
WATCH THE HEATED EXCHANGE:
12:12 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020
Congresswoman on Herman Cain's death: "This virus is not Democrat or Republican"
From CNN's Adrienne Vogt
Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters offered condolences to the family of Herman Cain, the businessman and former Republican presidential candidate who died from coronavirus.
“This virus is not Democrat or Republican,” Waters said.
Cain was hospitalized earlier this month. He was one of the Trump surrogates photographed at the President’s campaign rally on June 20 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Cain was seated closely among other attendees without a face covering.
SEE THE CONDOLENCES HERE:
12:25 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020
Fauci asked about Trump's falsehood that US has more cases because of more testing
House subcommittee Chair James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, addressed President Trump's tweet that seemed to reference a chart Clyburn showed earlier in the hearing about US cases largely outpacing European countries.
In his tweet, Trump claimed that the US is leading Europe in cases due to testing. The President has repeatedly argued that more testing is leading to more cases in the US. That is comprehensively inaccurate.
"Somebody please tell Congressman Clyburn, who doesn’t have a clue, that the chart he put up indicating more CASES for the U.S. than Europe, is because we do MUCH MORE testing than any other country in the World. If we had no testing, or bad testing, we would show very few CASES, " Trump tweeted in part.
Clyburn asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, if he agreed with Trump's statement. Clyburn pointed to Fauci's earlier comments from the hearing where the public health official said the difference in cases is due to multiple factors, including how states reopened.
"I stand by my previous statement that the increase in cases was due to a number of factors, one of which was that in the attempt to reopen, that in some situations, states did not abide strictly by the guidelines that the task force and the White House had put out and others that even did abide by it, the people in the state actually were congregating in crowds and not wearing masks," Fauci said.
Fact's first: CNN’s fact check team has reported that Trump's officials and his Republican allies have acknowledged it's not true that a rising number of tests is the reason the number of cases has skyrocketed over the last month.
One telling piece of evidence that the spike is genuine: the percentage of people testing positive, a key measure of the true spread of the virus, has also spiked. As for his assertion regarding other countries — Countries like Germany have needed to do less testing over time because they were more successful at containing their outbreaks in the first place — by employing a strategy that involved aggressive early testing.
Watch the exchange between Clyburn and Fauci:
11:17 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020
The hearing is in a short break
The House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis is holding a hearing this morning on "The Urgent Need For A National Plan To Contain The Coronavirus.” The panel is in a short five-minute break.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert; Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Admiral Dr. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, are testifying in-person.
For a little over two hours, the health experts have been pressed on Covid-19 vaccine development, school reopenings and the efficacy of President Trump's response to the virus.
2:06 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020
Possible coronavirus vaccines will be available to Americans in phases, Fauci says
From CNN's Aditi Sangal
In his congressional testimony, Dr. Anthony Fauci told lawmakers that a coronavirus vaccine may not be available to all Americans immediately, but in phases.
“I believe ultimately over a period of time in 2021, if we have — and I think we will have — a safe and effective vaccine, that Americans will be able to get it,” he said. “I don't think that we'll have everybody getting it immediately in the beginning. It probably will be phased in. And that's the reason why we have the committees to do the prioritization of who should get it first. But ultimately, within a reasonable period of time, the plans now allow for any American who needs a vaccine to get it within the year 2021.”
The nation’s top infectious disease expert reiterated that he is “cautiously optimistic” that a coronavirus vaccine will be ready by the end of the year to be distributed in 2021.
He also reassured lawmakers that all safety precautions will be taken by the FDA before the vaccine is made available to the public, encouraging all Americans to take the vaccine.
“I think the American public should be assured that in the process of determining the safety and efficacy, the proper steps have been taken to determine that, and when a vaccine becomes available it's important for their own health and for the health of the country to take that vaccine.”
SEE FAUCI'S ANSWER HERE:
11:00 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020
Fauci hopes China and Russia are testing Covid-19 vaccines before distributing them
From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers Friday that he hopes China and Russia are "actually testing the vaccine before they are administering the vaccine to anyone."
Speaking during a House subcommittee hearing, Fauci said "claims of having a vaccine ready to distribute before you do testing, I think, is problematic at best."
Fauci explained the US is moving in a "rapid" but "prudent" way.
"We are going very quickly. I do not believe that there will be vaccines so far ahead of us that we will have to depend on other countries to get us vaccines. I believe the program that is being sponsored by us right now, and being directed and implemented by us, is going at a very rapid speed — prudent, but rapid," Fauci said.
Some context: CNN learned earlier this week that Russia intends to be the first in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine, in less than two weeks. And despite concerns about its safety, effectiveness and over whether the country has cut essential corners in development, interest in the vaccine has already been expressed by at least 20 countries and some US companies, Russian officials say.
Officials told CNN on Wednesday that they were working toward a date of August 10 or earlier for approval of the vaccine, which has been created by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute. It will be approved for public use, with frontline healthcare workers getting it first, they said.
10:58 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020
Fauci on possibility of Covid-19 vaccine being ready by late 2020 or early 2021: "I don't think it's dreaming"
From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers Friday that he doesn't think it’s a dream to say that a coronavirus vaccine could be ready by the end of the year or early 2021.
"I believe it will occur," Fauci told Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) during a House subcommittee hearing, and emphasized that safety standards and scientific integrity are not being compromised for speed.
"I know to some people this seems like it is so fast that there might be compromising of safety and scientific integrity, and I can tell you that is absolutely not the case. The rapidity with which we're doing it is as a result of very different technologies."
"As I've said often and I'll repeat it for the record now: There's never a guarantee that you're going to get a safe and effective vaccine, but from everything we've seen now, in the animal data, as well as the early human data, we feel cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the end of this year and as we go into 2021. So I don't think it's dreaming, Congresswoman. I believe is the reality, and we've shown to be a reality," Fauci said.
10:44 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020
Redfield: "It's in the public health best interest" of students to get back in schools
As the start of the school year creeps closer and some states continue to see surges in cases, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reiterated his stance that schools should reopen this fall.
"I think it's important to realize that it's in the public health best interest of K-through-12 students to get back in face-to-face learning. There's really very significant public health consequences of the school closure," Redfield said.
Redfield outlined some of these consequences, including student access to mental health services.
"Clearly we're seeing less reporting of it, and again, I think it's a direct consequence of the school closures. 7.1 million kids get their mental health services at school, they get nutritional support as we've mentioned from schools," he said.
"It's really important to realize it's not public health versus the economy about school opening, it's public health versus public health of the K-through-12 to get the schools open. We've got to do it safely and we have to be able to accommodate," Redfield added.
Dr. Anthony Fauci echoed Redfield's comments later on in the hearing, saying that a "default position despite the fact that we have to have flexibility" would be to try "as best as we possibly can in the context of the safety of the children and the teachers" to reopen the schools.
Fauci pointed to the psychological consequences on children and "downstream unintended consequences on families" as important reasons for aiming to open educational establishments.
SEE REDFIELD'S ANSWER:
10:19 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020
30,000 people have started to enroll for the phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial, Fauci says
From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday that 30,000 individuals have started to enroll in the first Phase 3 clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine in the United States which started Monday.
"As I mentioned, the Phase 3 trial has already started; 30,000 individuals were already starting to enroll," Fauci said during his opening statement for the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
Fauci also said that, as of last night, more than 250,000 people have registered interest in trials for a coronavirus vaccine. He asked individuals who have expressed interest to go to coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org "to make sure that we have a diverse representation."
"I just want to use my last couple of seconds to urge anyone who's listening who wants to participate to please go to that website and register so that you can be part of the solution of this terrible scourge," Fauci said.