Dr. Ashish Jha Testifies Before Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

Although the Biden administration has done an admirable job of getting COVID-19 vaccinations into arms across America, there is still important work ahead.  Highlights from Dr. Jha’s testimony below.

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Where We Are Today

We mark a grim anniversary this month, one year into a global pandemic that has caused unimaginable suffering and loss. But, we also are seeing the beginning of the end of this pandemic. 

  • Infections are down nearly 70% since the peak of early January and, while we must keep wearing masks, keep social distancing, and keep being careful, data from the past two months suggests that we are turning a corner in our fight against this deadly pandemic.

  • More than 2.1 million vaccines are now administered every day. Expected supply over the next weeks and months is likely to increase this number to more than 3 million doses per day.

  • The Biden Administration recently announced that all willing American adults will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May. This is an extraordinary achievement on what has been a treacherous road. 

The Important Work Ahead

Equitably expand national and global vaccine supply and distribution

  • We must ensure that we substantially improve the equitable distribution of vaccines.

  • We need an aggressive, equitable global vaccination strategy with increased investment, collaboration and U.S. leadership. 

Increase rapid testing

  • In a world of low transmission and high vaccine coverage, we should be looking to cheap, rapid antigen tests that could be self-administered, and widely available. 

  • The FDA should work through the regulatory challenges recognizing these tests are different from PCR tests, and offer substantial value despite their reduced accuracy.

  • Congress should make investments to ensure that these tests are easily available. 

Increase investment in therapeutics

  • Development of safe and effective therapeutics, in both inpatient and outpatient settings, will help ensure that new infections – expected even with an increase in vaccinations –do not result in hospitalization or death. 

Continue to invest in our public health system, with equity at the center of our strategies. 

  • We need a comprehensive national public health system incorporating state, local, and federal agencies to promote health, surveil and predict emerging threats, and retain the capacity to respond to emergencies. 

  • Public health funding must anticipate rather than react to public health emergencies and recognize more pandemics are coming.

We can emerge from this crisis as an America that is prepared and ready for what the future may bring.

Ashish K. Jha Testimony to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

March 9, 2021