COVID-19 Federal Responses: Thursday, September 17

September 21, 2020
Key points in this update:
  • The CDC updated its COVID-19 data tracker and a number of its other guidances.
  • HHS announced its strategy for vaccine distribution.

Congress

Attempting to break a stalemate on COVID-19 relief legislation, President Trump expressed his support for a relief bill that provides up to $1.5 trillion in spending. Republican and Democratic negotiators have been at an impasse over the total amount for the bill. Negotiations on the finer details of the bill have not occurred pending an agreement on the total amount of funding. Republicans were previously asking for a bill that would spend $1 trillion while Democrats proposed a bill that would spend $2.2 trillion.

Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar will testify at a House Select Subcommittee hearing on the coronavirus October 2.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield told the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee that states need at least $6 billion for vaccine distribution.

White House and Federal Agencies

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield defended the CDC against a news report that claimed HHS political staff were interfering in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a temporary guidance document, “Resuming Normal Drug and Biologics Manufacturing Operations During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” to help drug and biological product manufacturers (including animal drug manufacturers) transition from operations impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency to normal manufacturing operations. This guidance provides recommendations to help manufacturers prioritize products and activities as they resume normal operations. It provides more detailed considerations and is specific to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Data from the CDC shows that children (under age 21) who died from COVID-19 often had at least one underlying condition. It also shows racial disparities in child deaths from the virus.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins released a blog post on COVID-19 and persistent lung problems.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Updates

CDC updated:

Economic Recovery, Vaccine, Testing and Treatment

HHS announced its strategy for distributing free COVID-19 vaccines once vaccine candidates are approved by the FDA. In anticipation of a vaccine receiving FDA approval, the federal government is planning to ship vaccines to states within 24 hours of approval.

Oxford University, which is partnering with AstraZeneca in its vaccine development work, says it believes the recently reported potential adverse reaction to its vaccine may be unrelated to the vaccine.

  • The NIH stated it is “very concerned” about the reported adverse reaction.

German vaccine manufacturer BioNTech purchased a new factory to improve its vaccine production capacity. Pfizer, which is developing its vaccine with BioNTech, reported their vaccine has not produced severe adverse reactions in trials thus far.

The FDA published new comparative data for 55 COVID-19 diagnostic tests.