Fauci testifies on Trump's coronavirus response

By Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 2:08 PM ET, Tue May 12, 2020
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11:05 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci: It's a "bridge too far" to think there will be a vaccine before college fall semesters start

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POOL

The first question at today's Senate hearing on coronavirus was about the possibility of college students getting back to campus this fall.

Sen. Lamar Alexander asked Dr. Anthony Fauci what he'd say to school officials who are trying persuade students to come back to campus.

"Let's look down the road three months. There will be about 5,000 campuses across the country trying to welcome 20 million college students," Alexander said.

Fauci said students might feel safest if there was a vaccine for coronavirus — but it's a "bridge too far" to think a vaccine or treatment will be ready by the time classes start this fall.

"If this were a situation where we had a vaccine, that would really be the end of that issue in a positive way," Fauci said. "We don't see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this term."

Dr. Brett Giroir, with the US Department of Health and Human Services, said the strategy for getting students back on campus is heavily dependent on how much community spread is happening in the fall.

He said there would likely be a "surveillance strategy" for students going back to class. That would involve testing some students at different times "to give an assurance that there's no circulation."

Watch Fauci:

10:56 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

FDA is watching out for fraudulent coronavirus tests, commissioner says

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Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said his organization has issued multiple emergency authorizations for coronavirus tests, and they're continuing to review them.

He said the FDA is "monitoring the marketplace for fraudulent tests, and are taking appropriate action to protect the public health."

Hahn said officials are working to provide "more clarity" on which tests have been reviewed by the FDA.

10:55 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

CDC director: "Testing is essential to reopening America"

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Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the US must have an extensive capacity to test for coronavirus before the country can lift certain restrictions.

"Rapid, extensive and widely available, timely testing is essential to reopening America," he said in his opening remarks to the senate committee.

He also said contact tracing is "critical" because it can prevent some community transmission.

WATCH:

10:46 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci: We hope to develop multiple coronavirus vaccines

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health and an expert on Trump's coronavirus task force, said there are many possible vaccines being worked on — and researchers hope to develop more than one.

"We have many candidates and hope to have multiple winners," Fauci said, explaining that more vaccines will be good for global availability.

"In other words, it's multiple shots on goal," Fauci said.
10:45 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Testing in the US "is impressive but not nearly enough," GOP senator says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

"What our country had done so far in testing is impressive but not nearly enough," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, Chairman of the HELP committee, in his opening remarks.

Reopening the country requires large-scale testing, he added.

"In my opinion, this requires millions of new tests, many from new technologies. Some of these will fail, but we only need a few successes to get where we want to go," Alexander said.

As he noted his previous conversations around coronavirus treatments and vaccines with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Sen. Alexander said that those are the ultimate solution, but until they are developed, all paths to reopening depend on testing.

"All roads back to work and school go through testing. The more tests we conduct, the better we can identify those who are sick and exposed, and we can quarantine the sick and exposed instead of trying to quarantine the whole country," the senator said.

Watch more:

10:38 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Senate Democrat: Trump's coronavirus response "so far has been a disaster"

Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, said her colleagues on the committee must dig for the truth about coronavirus because Trump is not.

"Truth is essential so people have the facts ... Lives are at stake." she said in her opening remarks. "The President isn't telling the truth — we must."

Murray said Trump's response to the pandemic has been a "disaster," citing the nation's lack of testing and shortages in personal protective equipment.

"The Trump administration's response to this public health emergency so far has been a disaster on its own," she said.

10:26 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Here's how this hearing will play out

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Pool

Sen. Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said today's hearing will end around 12:30 p.m. ET.

Here's how it will play out:

Each of the four witnesses will soon give a five-minute opening statement. Here are those witnesses:

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health
  • Dr. Robert Redfield, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Dr. Brett Giroir, US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Stephen Hahn, Food and Drug Administration

After that, each senator on the committee will get five minutes to ask questions. There are 23 members. Sen. Patty Murray, the committee's ranking member, will ask the final questions before the hearing wraps up.

10:12 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

This is what it looks like inside the Senate hearing room during a pandemic

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Pool

The Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is in session to hear from White House witnesses about the Trump administration's response to coronavirus.

Inside the hearing room, senators are seated far apart from each other. Some were seen wearing masks. Some senators are on video conference.

All of the witnesses, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, will testify remotely, following potential exposures to the virus last week.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, the chair of the committee, is also teleconferencing in as he gives his opening statement.

10:18 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

The Senate hearing just started

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Pool

US health experts representing the Trump administration, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, are testifying before the Republican-led Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee this morning.

The witnesses, who are all testifying remotely, will soon be sworn in. Here's who will testify:

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health
  • Dr. Robert Redfield, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Dr. Brett Giroir, US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Stephen Hahn, Food and Drug Administration