Fauci, Walensky Tackle Questions On COVID At Senate Hearing

Top health officials sounded off before a key Senate committee about what happens next in the fight against the coronavirus.

Fauci, Walensky Tackle Questions On COVID At Senate Hearing
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

On the second full day of COVID vaccines for kids 5 to 11, sleeves were rolling up. 

"We've been through this and we understand that doing this is part of keeping everybody safe," Jose Mujica said. "Not just us safe, but grandparents safe, so that's why we chose to do it."

Mujica's 8-year-old daughter, Sofia, said, "I was pretty nervous but then I said to myself that night, 'I have to do it to protect the world.'" 

While top health officials sounded off before a key Senate committee about what happens next, more than 750,000 Americans have died in the pandemic so far. 

"I think eradication is out," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "We've only eradicated one virus in history for humans and that's smallpox." 

First Fauci says the virus needs to be more under control. Not just in the U.S., but globally.  

It will take many tools to help get control, including treatments, testing and vaccines.  

What's next for treatments? The FDA will consider Merck's antiviral pill Molnupiravir at the end of November. 

Thursday, Britain became the first country to greenlight the drug. Other governments, including the U.S., have been buying it in bulk.  

The pill is meant to help treat infection after someone tests positive for COVID. Merck's studies show it reduces hospitalizations and deaths by nearly 50%. 

As for testing, health officials admit there is still an unmet need there. Shelves and e-stores once overflowing with tests are now running low or out of stock. Supply isn't keeping up with demand from schools, businesses and people looking for peace of mind. The FDA has authorized 11 over-the-counter tests so far.  

The Department of Health and Human Services says it's spent $3 billion in the past two months to ramp up supply of rapid tests. 

The CDC says vaccines to prevent COVID are still the best way to protect yourself.   

It was December 2020 when the first front line health care workers got their first doses of Pfizer's COVID shot. 

Now, Laura-Anne Cleveland of Rocky Mountain Children's hospital gets ready to give shots for an entire new age group. They have 300 doses they plan to give out Saturday at their first vaccine clinic for 5- to 11-year olds. 

"Just tears of relief and joy in everybody, but not just people who work in the health care profession, but people who've been affected by COVID," she said. "And I think the idea of hope and return to normalcy is just a powerful one."

Another optimistic note looking forward is shots for those 4 years old and younger. Fauci is hopeful for data on vaccines for that age group by the end of this year or the beginning of next year.