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Four top U.S. health officials leading the federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic are slated Wednesday to testify before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to provide an update on their efforts.
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are scheduled to speak. Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services who is in charge of the government's testing efforts, as well as Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, will also address the committee.
The hearing comes one day after the U.S. Covid-19 death toll surpassed 200,000, more than any other country in the world and the 11th highest national death toll when adjusted for population, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Concerns have mounted in recent weeks over political interference within the nation's top health agencies, as President Donald Trump pushes for a swift authorization of a vaccine from the FDA and publicly rebukes his own health officials. Last week, the president disputed comments from Redfield that it would take about "six to nine months" to get the entire American public vaccinated and that the U.S. would be able to resume "regular life" by the third quarter of next year.
Trump said Redfield "made a mistake" when he said the vaccine wouldn't be widely available to the general public until next summer or early fall.