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Lankford Presses for Ethical Coronavirus Vaccine Options in Hearing

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s Q&A.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today participated in an Appropriations Committee, Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing to review coronavirus response efforts. Lankford indicated he hoped today’s hearing would focus less on political theater and more on the actual facts and details of the coronavirus response.

The panelists for the hearing were Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, M.D., Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Bob Kadlec, M.D., the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS. Lankford questioned the panel about funding to help move the vaccine development process forward. Lankford also emphasized the need to pursue a vaccine that is ethically developed.


On the resources needed to continue to pursue a COVID-19 vaccine

Lankford: There’s been a lot of conversation about the amount of resources that are needed for the vaccines especially and for vaccine production and distribution. What do you still need for vaccine production and distribution as far as supplemental appropriations?

Dr. Kadlec: Senator, thanks for that question. At this point, we have funded six vaccine candidates for both the advanced development and manufacture. I think at this stage the $13.6 billion that have been committed for this purpose is adequate for the initial part of this. If you’re talking about the point in time when one vaccine candidate may fail, and we may have to replace it with another candidate or expand production of another, that could basically change our accounting and our calculus for what we would need. But at this stage, we have what we need…

On having ethically sourced vaccine options

Lankford: It’s not just human tissue in the production. There are some companies that are using adult stem cells. There are some that are using placentas from children after birth. Those are not objectionable. I don’t find anyone challenging that. So it’s not just the use of human tissue; it’s specifically the use of tissue that’s from aborted children that becomes the challenge. Moderna is using embryonic kidney cells from aborted children. Johnson & Johnson is using aborted children’s embryonic retinal tissue for its production of the vaccines. There are others that are not choosing to use those tissues from children. So I think there just needs to be as many options out there as we can.

And again, I just wonder on the science side, if we don’t have to use tissue from aborted children, why would we do that when there’s others that are choosing to be able to develop vaccines that are not being used that way. So I want to be able to follow up with you on that and just be able to see what options are out there and how we’re handling the funding and what direction we’re going to go. And long term for vaccines, most of the vaccines that we have in America now don’t use embryonic tissue in it. There are still some that still do, that is the line that’s still used. And again if we don’t have to do that, why would we do that, to have it as ethical as we possibly can.

So, I appreciate the work. We’ll follow up in the days ahead on this particular topic because I think it’s very important that as many people get vaccinated as possible, and I don’t want to have a reason for people to not go get a vaccine because they’re concerned about the origin of the vaccine. I want as many people as possible to actually get a vaccine because I think it’s important. And it’s been an odd conversation to hear so much of people saying, ‘Well, I’m challenging whether we’re going to get a vaccine because the Trump Administration may be rushing this. And so I don’t want to go get one.’ I think we need to have nothing that distracts from the science and the details of this as we walk through it as well.