Coronavirus Roundup: Top FDA Official Vows to Resign if Vaccine is Approved Prematurely; Moderate Democrats Call for Restarting Coronavirus Relief Negotiations
There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
During an interview on CNN on Friday morning, Vice President Mike Pence defended his assessment in June that there was no second wave of the novel coronavirus, based on the data and expertise at the time. “CNN was wrong a lot early in the year as well...we’ve all been learning all along the way,” he said when asked if he was wrong. He outlined the Trump administration’s efforts to develop a vaccine, build up the strategic national stockpile and increase testing. “I have a news flash for Joe Biden,” Pence said. “We think there is a miracle around the corner.” Here are some other recent headlines you might have missed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will resume collection of coronavirus data, after the Health and Human Services Department took over last month, according to an exclusive Wall Street Journal report on Thursday. “Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator, told hospital executives and government officials in Arkansas this week that the current system under which hospitals report new cases is ‘solely an interim system,’ ” said the report. “The reversal comes after increasing reports that the new system has been plagued by delays and inconsistencies in data since being implemented in July.”
Meanwhile, HHS denied the change is happening. HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo told Politico “the process for COVID-19 data reporting has not and is not changing.” Government Executive reported on Thursday that House lawmakers are calling on the Government Accountability Office to review the switch in systems and its implications so far.
The Census Bureau started a second phase of a weekly survey to assess how small businesses are faring during the pandemic and their use of federal relief funds. Beginning on Thursday, it will release results weekly until October 15 and will chart the trends.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House coronavirus task force, underwent surgery on Thursday to remove a polyp on his vocal cord. Fauci told Politico he would be "out of action" for long speeches for two weeks, but would be able to do short interviews in about a week.
On Thursday, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, demanded a briefing from HHS following the report that the administration is now allowing coronavirus tests developed by individual laboratories to be used without Food and Drug Administration approval. “I do not believe that now is the time to reduce oversight of COVID-19 tests,” he said. “Flooding the market with unregulated and potentially inaccurate tests will only further undermine our nation’s response efforts.”
A top FDA career official vowed to resign if his agency approves a coronavirus vaccine before it is proven safe and effective. Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, made the comment last week on a call in response to concerns from members of a National Institutes of Health working group about political pressure, Reuters reported on Thursday.
The FDA issued guidance on Thursday about the use of ultraviolet devices for coronavirus disinfection and the agency’s role in regulating them. UVC radiation has the highest energy content on the UV spectrum and is used as a disinfectant for air, water and nonporous surfaces, but “the effectiveness of UVC lamps in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus is unknown because there is limited published data about the wavelength, dose and duration of UVC radiation required to inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” said the FDA. Government Executive reported earlier this month that the Federal Bureau of Prisons spent almost $3 million on UV sanitizing entry portals, which use far-UVC light, as part of the bureau’s pandemic response.
On Friday, the House Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate Democrats in favor of fiscal responsibility, called on congressional leadership to restart coronavirus relief negotiations and include priorities that they believe can garner bipartisan support. For example, “we reiterate our call for stronger spending oversight measures in order to protect taxpayer dollars,” they wrote. “During this pandemic, every federal dollar wasted is a dollar less to support our health care system, our workers and our businesses. Protecting taxpayer money should be the ultimate bipartisan cause.”
Today’s GovExec Daily podcast episode talks about the role of the Hatch Act in the Trump era and the complications in 2020 due to telework and the president delivering his convention speech from the White House amid the pandemic.
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