This day’s inspiration comes from John F. Kennedy, “We all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” That comes from the book, “Healing”, a journal of tolerance and understanding by Muhammad Ali and Thomas Hauser - a truly great collection of quotes written to combat bigotry and prejudice that Ali gave to me in 1997.
Some good news continues on the vaccine front. I reported last week that Pfizer does believe that it can manufacture up to 100M doses by the end of this year and potentially more than 1.2B by the end of 2021. A global Phase 2B/3 safety and efficacy study may begin as early as this month as they and BioNTech announced their vaccine candidate provoked immune responses in 45 healthy volunteers who had antibodies that were 2.8 times the level of those found in patients who have recovered! You can see that news release HERE and the study HERE. Those trials will aim to enroll about 30K folks and will be conducted predominantly in the U.S. I heard directly from Pfizer’s Chairman and CEO, Dr. Albert Bourla, regarding this advancement and shared it with my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee. It continues to appear that the production of the promising vaccine will be in Kalamazoo.
The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus has begun discussions with Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) to resuscitate a criminal justice bill that failed to progress in the Senate last week. I am hoping we can reach a commonsense conclusion allowing for more funding for training and equipment like body cams, proper restrictions on choke holds that are already banned in a number of jurisdictions, and a fix for the glaring provision in the House-passed bill on Qualified Immunity (QI) for law enforcement officers. I volunteered to be part of this working group “weighing-in” on the QI. The goal is to produce a product that can pass with bipartisan support and reach the White House before the end of the month.
Earlier today I participated in a live AARP “tele-town hall” and discussed nursing home regulations, the likelihood of more stimulus checks, a new legislative package for COVID-related funding shortfalls by state, city, and county jurisdictions, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) updates (the president signed legislation this past weekend that unanimously passed the House and Senate to once again extend the deadline for applications by small businesses), testing and vaccine updates, and a number of other questions and answers that you can listen to HERE. You can read a summary from AARP HERE.
I also participated in a podcast with the Executive Director of Patients Rising related to updating the 21st Century Cures legislation that was enacted when I chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee. We are hoping to include an updated “2.0” version later this year that could advance patient access to and affordability of healthcare—particularly on the rare disease front using Real World Experience (RWE). I am also hopeful we can alter the way clinical trials are conducted to include more diversity as we have seen real examples of trouble related to symptoms from COVID-19 among minority populations.
Many of the nation’s internet service providers signed a voluntary pledge not to shut off service during the Coronavirus pandemic earlier this year. Senator Wicker (R-MS) and my successor as Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Greg Walden (R-OR), released “principles for a legislative framework” for a broadband bill hoping to fix broadband maps, help students get online, and increase deregulation, which gained the support of the FCC Chair, Ajit Pai. Perhaps we will be able to get some of these elements into the bipartisan Clyburn/Upton bill, which will expand broadband dramatically to underserved areas with an FCC auction sale providing states like ours more than $1B/10 years to deploy as early as this year. This bill could be on the House Floor as early as this month.
Today’s photo is a constituent from St. Joseph wearing the Harry Potter mask their mom made for them while picking up books from curbside pick-up at the library! TY for sharing. We love to see folks’ masks! If you’d like to submit a photo for us to share in the KT, please click HERE.
If you would like to submit photos to share in these Kitchen Table updates of you social distancing, in your masks, working from home, and other photos of how you are keeping safe during the coronavirus pandemic, please click here.