On Fox News, Portman Highlights Participation in Vaccine Trial & Urges Bipartisan Action on COVID-19 Relief Legislation

November 19, 2020 | Portman Difference

Today on Fox News’s The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino, 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 important 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 also 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.

In addition, Portman discussed the need for Congress to come together and negotiate in good faith on a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package that bolsters our health care response, helps our economy and small businesses continue to recover, provides funding for schools and state and local governments, permanently expands telehealth options for addiction treatment, and provides enhanced federal unemployment benefits to help people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Portman has given 18 floor speeches calling for bipartisan action focused on the bipartisan areas of agreement, saying that now is the time to put aside political differences and act on behalf of the American people.

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



“It’s been great and I would encourage people to do it. We have a company here in Ohio that provides these services to a lot of these different vaccine makers. And I had a briefing from them, they told me what was going on, they said one of our issues is encouraging more people to step forward and participate in these trials. Because, without the trials and a lot of people, you can’t get the approval and you can’t get the vaccine out. I said, ‘Well, what the heck? Do you want me to do it?’ They said, ‘Sure, that would be great, as long as you are willing to go public.’ I said I certainly would. I have been doing it for about two weeks. You keep a daily diary for a while. It’s not difficult. You have to go through an interview process and obviously get the inoculation. I don’t know whether I got the vaccine or whether I got the placebo, but I feel great. I think it’s important that everybody step forward.

“No side effects, and I get asked that question by the testers every day. Look these trials are absolutely essential because that will get us quicker to the FDA Emergency Use Authorization, which is the approval we need, and then get the vaccines out. I’m really excited about what we have heard just in the last 10 days about both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine candidates which are at 90 and 95 percent and 94.5 percent efficacy. That’s really good news.”


“Well, I, first, couldn’t agree with you more. The unemployment numbers don’t look good today. I don’t know if you saw that statistic. But it was a national statistic and some say it may be a blip. I don’t think it is. I think it is increasing unemployment because we see so many governors shutting down businesses again and people again losing their jobs, as you say, through no fault of their own and yet no enhanced unemployment to be able to rely on, and frankly the PPP program, which was working great ended on August 8th and that’s one reason why we are having trouble right now, is these smaller businesses are not able to keep their doors open without a little help to get them through this period. I think, Dana, it’s basically a bridge over the valley between now and March when I think you will see widespread use of the vaccine.

“Right now I don’t see a whole lot of interest among the Speaker of the House and Democrats in the House. That’s what I’m told and the Biden folks are sticking with Speaker Pelosi. Democrats in the Senate are starting to talk with me more and others of us who are trying to come together with a bipartisan approach here. I know the president is very interested. He has been quite clear about it. Steve Mnuchin is the most eager man in Washington, you know, to try to get some sort of an agreement working on behalf of the president. So I think it’s possible. But it’s going to have to, I think, be one where both sides are going to have to say, “Look let’s get done what we can get done now”, and that would be helping small businesses, providing the funding for this healthcare side of it because the efficacy of the vaccines is great news, but we need more money to keep this going and keep the distribution going.”


“Well, it’s interesting, you know, I was on a briefing today with Dr. Slaoui and General Perna, who are the two people in charge of Operation Warp Speed, which has been a phenomenal success, and the Trump Administration deserves a lot of credit for that, and this is to get the vaccines and therapies going. We asked them that question. We said, ‘Are you all providing this briefing?’ By the way it was a bipartisan briefing, every senator was invited, and they said “Absolutely. This is transparent. We are providing it.” And I think that’s good. So I have been encouraging that, as you may know, saying that the intelligence briefings and this briefing, but they’re providing the information to frankly, you know, anybody who is interested. And it’s pretty phenomenal what they are doing both in terms of developing the vaccines but also getting them out there.”