Making Strides Against COVID-19
- More than 100 million coronavirus tests have been administered in the United States to detect the virus and help Americans safely return to their daily lives.
- The Trump administration and Congress are supporting the development of COVID-19 treatments, with more than 300 potential treatments currently in the works.
- Through Operation Warp Speed, the goal of delivering safe and effective vaccinations to Americans by 2021 is underway. Four vaccine candidates have now reached the final phase of testing in the United States.
The Trump administration, with the support of Congress, has made significant progress in combatting COVID-19. Daily testing for the virus has increased by more than 30,000% since early March. More than 300 potential treatments are being studied and developed. Through Operation Warp Speed, the federal government and drug manufacturers are on course to provide safe and effective vaccines to prevent the disease.
Public health officials stress the need for continued screening and surveillance of the virus. They also emphasize the use of effective tools like staying home when sick, wearing a mask in public, keeping social distance, avoiding crowds, washing hands, and getting a flu shot.
widespread and affordable Testing
Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, gave an update on vaccine progress to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on September 23. He said the United States had conducted about 100 million tests since the virus first appeared. HHS projects a total capacity of 6.5 million tests per day by the end of the year. The turnaround time for test results also has improved; according to the White House it now averages 1.5 days.
Health officials have been focused on ensuring the right test is provided to the right person at the right time. Making testing easy, affordable, and widely available is an essential part of safely reopening the economy and getting people back to daily routines with confidence. The Trump administration has sent rapid point-of-care equipment and almost 5 million tests to more than 14,000 nursing homes to mitigate the spread of the disease and protect residents and workers.
The NIH is leading a public-private partnership called Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines. Its goal is to coordinate the efforts of federal agencies, drug manufacturers, universities, private and public organizations, and the European Medicines Agency to develop treatments and vaccines. So far, one antiviral drug, remdesivir, has received an emergency use authorization from the FDA and has shown positive results in treating COVID-19 patients who require supplemental oxygen. Other treatment approaches, such as monoclonal antibody cocktails and convalescent plasma, also are being assessed for the treatment of patients.
We now have treatments that can reduce the severity of COVID-19, and as doctors learn more about the virus they are adjusting their approaches to manage the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States has seen a nearly 50% reduction in daily cases and a 32% reduction in associated deaths since the peak of the pandemic on July 24. The number of people hospitalized has dropped by 54% since the post-Memorial Day peaks, and intensive care unit admissions related to the disease are down 65%.
On May 15, the Trump administration announced the establishment of Operation Warp Speed. This is a public-private partnership funded by HHS to expedite the timeline for developing, manufacturing, and delivering a safe and effective vaccine. Operation Warp Speed is allowing typical vaccine development steps to take place simultaneously with manufacturing and distribution planning.
So far, four potential vaccines – from Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson – have reached the final testing phase: phase 3 clinical trials. These vaccines will be tested on thousands of volunteers to determine their effectiveness and to identify any side effects. Results of trials for some of the four vaccines could come as early as this month. Every vaccine produced through this unprecedented effort will undergo a rigorous review by FDA scientists to ensure it meets the agency’s gold standard of safety and efficacy. If a vaccine is authorized for emergency use, FDA expects manufacturers to continue to monitor clinical trial participants to identify any safety concerns that may arise.
Next Article Previous Article