McConnell Celebrates COVID-19 Vaccine News and Urges Continued Precautions
‘It’s urgent that all Americans continue the smart steps that have gotten us this far: wearing masks, social distancing, adapting our plans and routines. This virus is not going to magically leave us alone if we decide we are fed up with taking precautions. But — thank God, and thanks to brilliant scientists — we may look back on this hopeful announcement as the beginning of the end of this terrible ordeal.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the COVID-19 vaccine announcement:
“Last week, the country and the world received some great news that we have longed to hear.
“A major American drug company, together with their German partner, announced that their candidate for a COVID-19 vaccine appears to be at least 90 percent effective in trials. That is ninety percent – nine zero.
“Dr. Fauci called these preliminary results “’extraordinary.’ Another expert called the news, quote, ‘as good as you could hope for.’
“Of course, tests and trials are ongoing. The FDA will perform its own thorough review, which will include analyzing months of safety data.
“The American people should rest assured there are appropriate and necessary measures to ensure the safety and efficacy of any vaccine before it is rolled out to the American people.
“But this will proceed with the life-saving urgency that is called for.
“Right now, COVID-19 is continuing to spread across our country at rates that are not sustainable, and which we must try to slow.
“Yesterday, my home state of Kentucky just logged our highest-ever daily total — 2,700 new cases. The positivity rate of our tests is the highest since early May.
“It’s urgent that all Americans continue the smart steps that have gotten us this far: wearing masks, social distancing, adapting our plans and routines.
“This virus is not going to magically leave us alone if we decide we are fed up with taking precautions.
“But — thank God, and thanks to brilliant scientists — we may look back on this hopeful announcement as the beginning of the end of this terrible ordeal.
“I said in March that our country was about to meet a whole lot of new heroes.
“Many were going to be doctors and nurses. Others were going to be the essential workers who kept society going.
“And some were going to be men and women who worked like crazy in labs and research centers until we had this virus beat.
“But every American has a role. As cases continue to climb, the simple advice — wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands — are now as important as ever.
“Of course, discovering the vaccine will only be part of the battle.
“Once one or more candidates have been proven effective and safe, it will be a second herculean undertaking to scale up production and distribute doses of the vaccine throughout our country.
“This is why this Senate and the Trump administration have been on the case for months.
“As part of the historic CARES Act, we created Operation Warp Speed — an historic effort that combined interagency government work with public-private partnerships.
“This was a 21st-century Manhattan Project for a COVID vaccine.
“We helped fund research and development for several firms. We committed billions of dollars in advance purchase agreements. We flattened regulatory barriers to speed the process.
“We provided backing so that companies could begin mass-producing vaccine doses before clinical trials had fully concluded, so we’d have a head start on whichever ones wound up working.
“If things stay on track, we hope to have a safe and effective vaccine in a timeframe that will be absolutely historic.
“President Trump’s administration and this Congress should take huge pride in the groundwork we laid.
“Now, strangely enough, some are finding it challenging to simply applaud this unambiguous good news.
“The Democratic Governor of New York State opined a few days ago that it was, quote, ‘bad news’ that a vaccine breakthrough may have been reached because President Trump is in office.
“Now, I understand Governor Cuomo has found the time during this pandemic to write and publish a self-congratulatory book on leadership.
“This, notwithstanding that his own state was absolutely pummeled by the disease, and his own administration intentionally sent thousands of COVID-19-positive patients into vulnerable nursing homes.
“This gentleman has the temerity to say this vaccine breakthrough is partially ‘bad news’ because it occurred under the Trump administration.
“He gestured vaguely toward unspecified concerns about distribution.
“I guess he would have preferred the life-saving breakthroughs be delayed longer, with more American deaths in the meantime.
“The irony, as our colleague the senior Senator from Tennessee has pointed out, is that the plans that are in place put states in the driver’s seat for arranging distribution and making sure the most vulnerable citizens receive access.
“The federal government is there to provide guidance and support.
“As Senator Alexander said, the Governor of New York might want to devote more time and attention to developing this crucial plan, rather than undermining public confidence for the sake of politics.
“But sadly, this isn’t anything new.
“Just a few weeks ago, the Democratic Governors of both New York and California both began openly second-guessing the Food and Drug Administration and doubting its ability to assess the safety of a vaccine.
“There were suggestions that blue states may set up their own state review boards and then withhold life-saving vaccines from their own people for who knows how long until this extra obstacle had been hurdled.
“This is where they are. Vaccines aren’t vaccines if a Republican is president until New York and California reinvent their own miniature FDAs.
“To be clear, Americans purchase nearly 4 billion prescriptions every year, trusting the expertise and professionalism of the FDA.
“That is the trusted authority.
“Nobody is crying out for liberal governors to add their own Good Housekeeping seal of approval, let alone potentially delay the end of COVID-19 to do so.
“If this vaccine proves to be the one, citizens in New York and California should not have it withheld from them because their Governors care more about performatively opposing President Trump than about hard science.
“This reminds me of when the junior Senator for California declared in September, during her Vice-Presidential campaign, that she might hesitate to trust a vaccine.
“The whole country understands that our Democratic friends are not charter members of the President Donald Trump fan club.
“They do not need to dabble in the early stages of anti-vax conspiracy theories to prove it.
“In fact, for the sake of public health, and public confidence, and saving lives, they have a moral obligation to stop.
“If a vaccine has been found and distribution can begin soon, that’s good news. Not bad news.
“It would be a major victory for our country and the world, fueled by American innovation and aided by Project Warp Speed, thanks to this Senate and the Trump administration.
“It would save thousands and thousands of American lives. And public confidence will be essential. Leaders on all sides have a duty to act accordingly.”
Related Issues: Health Care, Senate Democrats, COVID-19