Pharmaceutical companies working to develop coronavirus treatments and vaccines are making their presence known on Capitol Hill–and answering tough questions about safety and equity.
During a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing earlier this week, vaccine makers shrugged off concerns that White House pressure and accelerated clinical trial timelines would impact the safety of a COVID-19 vaccine.
When pressed on health equity and determining who should be given the vaccine first, officials from five major vaccine makers – AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, and Pfizer – said the U.S. government will be in charge of distributing any vaccines. Only AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson committed to selling their vaccines on a not-for-profit basis, at least as long as the coronavirus pandemic remains a national emergency.
Operation Warp Speed has announced a $1.95 billion deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for 600 million doses of their experimental coronavirus vaccine and has committed to make 100 million doses available to American people at no cost by December, pending FDA approval.
Regardless, other countries are eager for a window into American vaccine development. Last week the National Security Agency detected Kremlin espionage and days later, the Justice Department identified two Chinese hackers targeting coronavirus vaccine research from American biotech firms.