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House Health Committee Holds Second Hearing on COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments

October 21, 2020

As a follow up to a hearing held late September, members of the House Health Committee heard from representatives of the pharmaceutical and health care communities about the progress of COVID-19 vaccine development and treatments available to patients who have been hospitalized.

Jim Pettinato, chief nursing officer and director of patient care at Wayne Memorial Hospital, was on hand to provide the committee with a glimpse into how independent and smaller community hospitals responded to and treated COVID-19. Early on in the pandemic, their community established an incident command structure. The coordination and communication between local government, the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), nursing homes, and schools was key to ensuring the community had up-to-date information and could share clinical concerns and insight, as well as ensuring that the hospital was not overwhelmed.

Mr. Pettinato noted that Wayne Memorial Hospital treated 42 patients in a containment unit who had access to various COVID-19 treatments which included remdesivir, hydroxycholorquine, steroids, antibiotics, blood transfusions, and aerosolizing treatments.

Presenters from the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), commented on the research and development of a COVID-19 vaccine. BIO noted that more than 750 programs for COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics have been started since the beginning of the pandemic, and PhRMA referenced 1,649 clinical trials for vaccinations and treatments for COVID-19, with 115 investigating vaccines and 1,534 investigating therapies.

While the speed at which a vaccine is developed is important, both presenters agreed that developers and public health officials cannot lose sight of safety as the number one priority. Once a vaccine is available, there will be additional challenges with distribution priorities, insurance coverage, storage, and implementation.

For more information, contact Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy.