On Fox News, Portman Discusses Participation in COVID-19 Vaccine Trial & Importance of Upcoming COVID-19 Vaccines

November 18, 2020 | Portman Difference

This morning on Fox News’s Fox & Friends, Senator Portman discussed his participation in the ENSEMBLE phase 3 trial for the COVID-19 vaccine candidate being developed by Johnson & Johnson and managed by CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services (CTI) at its research center in Cincinnati, Ohio. At a time when COVID-19 cases are surging in Ohio and across the country and only about half of Americans have confidence in the upcoming vaccines, Portman felt it was his civic duty to participate in a vaccine trial to raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness while encouraging others to participate as well. He discussed the importance of the vaccines to ensure Americans feel comfortable returning to retail establishments, schools, the workplace and gathering with friends and family.

Portman applauded the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed which has led the unprecedented development of the vaccine candidates, and urged his fellow elected officials to stop casting doubt on a potential vaccine for the sake of political victories.

A transcript of the interview can be found below and a video can be found here.

PORTMAN ON HIS PARTICIPATION IN J&J CLINICAL VACCINE TRIAL:

“Well, at the briefing that I had from a company in Ohio that organizes these trials around the country, I found out that they were having a tough time getting more people to join the trials, and more people in the trials is a good thing because that gets us quicker to an FDA authorization process and a vaccine more quickly. So I said, ‘What the heck, should I sign up?’ And they said, ‘Sure, and if you’d be willing to go public with it, it would be helpful to get more people to join.’ Second, as you said, I just think these vaccines are a critical, important next step. We’re not going to be able to get through the coronavirus and back to a normal life, I think, until we get those vaccines. I’m for masks, I wear mine, I’m for social distancing and more tests, but we really need to have these vaccines, and this is really exciting news this morning. By the way, the other reason I wanted to do it is that I have been very concerned about the numbers I’ve seen on people’s willingness to get vaccinated.”

PORTMAN ON AMERICANS’ READINESS TO RECEIVE COVID-19 VACCINE:

“It’s very low. When I got into this, it was 50 percent. As of last night, it is now up to 58 percent of Americans who are willing to get vaccinated, and we need everybody to be willing to get vaccinated who doesn’t have a medical issue because this is going to protect them and their families but also our community. I applaud the administration for what they’ve done here. This Operation Warp Speed, public-private partnership is really working. This is a great, innovative way for us to do something that’s never been done before, never this quickly have we gotten an effective and safe vaccine to the American people. So great news this morning from Pfizer.

“Ainsley, I’m very concerned about politicians who are suggesting that somehow the scientists at the FDA are not doing their job. They’re impugning the integrity of a great group of Americans who have worked day and night to insure we have this vaccine ready. So whether it’s Governor Cuomo or some of my colleagues in the Senate who are being skeptical about this and giving people a sense that this might not be safe, that is really irresponsible. It’s playing with the health and safety of the American people, really, and playing politics. So I hope that everybody gets onboard here and, yes, it is the Trump Administration, but, yes, they’ve done a great job with Operation Warp Speed. And these are scientists at the FDA. These are not politicians. These are the people who do the best work in the entire world, and we need to trust them, and we need to help America to be able to turn the corner here.”

PORTMAN ON HISTORIC RATE OF APPROVAL FOR COVID-19 VACCINE:

“I’m the former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, as Brian suggests, and the bureaucracy is sometimes difficult to get through. What the president and his administration decided to do was to go ahead and spend the money now to begin the manufacture of these vaccines even as they were going through the testing process. And if at the end of the day, they don’t get the Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, they’ll be thrown away. On the other hand, if they do get through it -- and it looks like these first two, both Pfizer and Moderna are doing very, very well -- then we can immediately begin distribution because they’ve already been manufactured. It was brilliant, and otherwise we’d be looking at months and months. It’s a good plan, and it is working. The American people are going to benefit from it.”

PORTMAN ON IMPORTANCE OF PARTICIPATING IN J&J CLINICAL VACCINE TRIAL:

“I mean, your arm hurts a little bit, but, you know, it’s a very thorough interview process you go through. You’ve got to reveal everything about your life, you’ve got to be sure your own doctor, if you have one, is on board, you’ve got to go through a daily diary for the first week where you tell them exactly how you’re doing, take your temperature and so on. But it’s not hard to go through. And right now I’m checking in every Monday and Thursday with a health care report. I encourage people to sign up. I mean, I think it’s a way for us all to do a little bit to help here, our civic duty. And when the vaccine’s available, because it will be safe and efficacious because of the FDA following the process -- by the way, this emergency use authorization process has been tightened up to deal with the coronavirus. In other words, it’s even more strenuous than it was before. So I think this is a really great opportunity for us to get back to a more normal life, you know? To get back to work, get back to church or your place of worship, you know, get back to a more normal life that I think everybody’s desperate for.”

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