On Fox News, Portman Urges Elected Officials Not to Play Politics with People’s Lives By Sowing Distrust in Vaccines

November 18, 2020 | Press Releases

This evening on Fox News’s The Story with Martha MacCallum, Senator 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.

Portman also 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.

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

PORTMAN ON UNPRECEDENTED SUCCESS OF OPERATION WARP SPEED:

“Well, it’s not about money and ego, it’s in fact about science and data and safety and saving lives. And let’s face it, Operation Warp Speed has worked miraculously. It’s a private-public partnership that allows us to do two things. One, yes, encourage the development of these new vaccines as quickly as possible, and Congress provided $27 billion as you know in the CARES Act to do it. But second, what was brilliant, I think, by the Trump administration was to say there will be a dual track -- at the same time, we will be manufacturing this vaccine, which, as you heard earlier, normally takes years. So you had the development of the vaccine and the manufacturing going on two tracks at the same time. If the FDA approval doesn’t come, you throw away those vials. But, if it does come, which we hope it will for Moderna and Pfizer, which are out front it appears with 90 percent and 95 percent efficiency, unbelievable effective rates of 95 percent -- that’s just extraordinary -- then those vaccines are ready to go and you can get them on the market right away. So I think it was really smart the way they did it, and I think it’s a great example of where the public sector and private sector can come together for success. It is irresponsible and reckless to say that this is not safe. That is just playing politics with people’s lives. It’s playing politics with the health care in our communities and it’s just wrong. And it really saddens me.”

PORTMAN ON PARTICIPATING IN COVID-19 VACCINE TRIAL

“It went great, and I would encourage people to sign up. I signed up for the study because we have in our state of Ohio a company that does these studies all over the country, and I had gone for a briefing and they told me it’s difficult sometimes to get people to enter into the trials. And I said ‘What if I did it? Would that be helpful?’ They said, ‘Sure, if you are willing to go public to say did you it, and it was a good experience and so on.’ So I did it. You have to go through a questionnaire, you have to answer a lot of questions about your health care, you have got to be, you know, sure that you are the right person for the trial. And when you get into the trial, you have to keep a daily diary for a week and then now I do it every Monday and Thursday. But I think it’s a tremendous way for people to step forward and help.

“I have been feeling great. And I joked today maybe I got the placebo and it was caffeine because I’ve been feeling pumped up, you know. Maybe I got the vaccine, I don’t know. I will never know. You know, half the people get the placebo. Half the people get the vaccine and these studies that are coming out are just phenomenal, and this has all happened since I entered into the trial. But, again, 94.5 percent and 95 percent effectiveness for these vaccines. With the flu vaccine, I’m told it’s about 30 percent effective. So this is fantastic.”

PORTMAN ON TRUSTING THE EXPERTS TO SUCCESSFULLY DEPLOY COVID-19 VACCINE:

“Well, two things. One, a lot of the people who are involved in this, as you know, are not political people. In other words, they are not going to leave the administration. Dr. Fauci is a great example of that -- I think he served under something like seven presidents. So he’s going to have the expertise regardless of what happens in these final weeks here.

“Second, I do think the information ought to be provided. I think that that is not harmful. And I think it’s important. People understand – both, by the way, in the Congress, and, you know, others -- to be sure that there isn’t any gap in knowledge. I think it’s pretty clear what’s happening, which is that we hope by the end of this year, there will be tens of millions of these doses available and they will go first to people who are in health care and that’s good. Front line workers, particularly people in the nursing homes where the nursing home infections tend to be people going in and out of the nursing home. People who are patients and then people like first responders. So I think that’s appropriate. And then it will go to the most vulnerable and I think that’s appropriate. No, look, everybody needs to know what the plan is. But I think it’s a solid plan. And I think it’s good that the military is involved in the logistics of it because it is an enormous undertaking.”