Jeanette Contreras portrait

La tercera vacuna trae esperanza

By NCL Director of Health Policy Jeanette Contreras

La Administración de Alimentos y Medicamentos de los EE. UU. (FDA, por sus siglas en inglés) acaba de aprobar una autorización de uso de emergencia para la vacuna de Johnson & Johnson, la tercera vacuna para combatir el coronavirus en EEUU. Aunque parece que no es tan efectiva como las otras dos, la vacuna de Johnson & Johnson ofrece una protección de 85 por ciento contra casos severos de COVID-19 y 100 por ciento de eficacia para evitar hospitalización y mortalidad, a causa del COVID-19. Con solo una dosis, esta vacuna ofrece protección de 72 por ciento contra el COVID-19 que ultimadamente ayuda controlar la pandemia en la población y alcanzar un nivel de inmunidad necesaria para regresar a la vida normal.

Una ventaja enorme de esta vacuna en términos de administración, es que se puede mantener en refrigeración normal por meses. Las otras vacunas requieren mantenimiento de temperatura súper baja en refrigeradores industriales que solo se encuentran en hospitales grandes. La vacuna de Johnson & Johnson es ideal para distribuir a comunidades rurales y en clínicas comunitarias. La aprobación de esta tercera vacuna, aumenta la disponibilidad y nos da esperanza de poder vacunar a más personas, más rápido con solo una dosis.

Sabemos que la comunidad Latina sufre de una taza de contagio más alta que otros grupos. Latinos constituyen una gran cantidad de empleados en trabajos esenciales con alto riesgo de contagio, como en la producción de comida y en puestos de trabajo de pequeños negocios. Mientras muchos esperan vacunarse, otros tendrán dudas o miedo de vacunarse. La campaña Depende De Ti nos asegura que es normal tener preguntas y ofrece información y respuestas en Español para educar a la comunidad latina.

Campañas educativas como esta son necesaria para combatir información falsa y mitos que circulan en las redes sociales. Se escuchan mitos que las vacunas en general hacen daño o que alteran o cambian el ADN. Sin embargo, está comprobado científicamente por siglos que las vacunas han salvado vidas y nos han protegido. Los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC, por sus siglas en inglés) tiene una página dedicada a información para derribar los mitos más frecuentes acerca de estas vacunas.

Para alentar a la población a vacunarse, muchas empresas grandes están ofreciendo tiempo pagado o incentivos financieros a los empleados que se vacunan. Por ejemplo, supermercados como Publix les da $125 y Kroger les da $100 a empleados cuando reciben la vacuna completa. Dollar General les aumenta cuatro horas de pago normal a los que se vacunan.

Gracias a la autorización de la nueva vacuna, Presidente Biden afirma que para el fin de mayo habrá vacunas para todos los adultos en EEUU. Las personas que deciden vacunarse, pueden buscar información confiable en el recurso de Telemundo – PlanificaTuVacuna.com para verificar la elegibilidad de acuerdo a las ordenes de cada estado.

Getting more vaccines in arms: Trust and efficiencies

Guest blog by Farah Towfic, PharmD, MBA, director of the U.S. Pharmacopeia COVID-19 Vaccine Handling Toolkit

In the United States, nearly 200 million doses of influenza vaccines are administered annually. Clearly, pharmacists, nurses, physicians, and other healthcare practitioners have demonstrated a successful track record of delivering robust immunization programs for many years. However, the unprecedented scale and speed at which the COVID-19 vaccinations must be delivered to curb the devastating impact of this pandemic has surfaced enormous challenges—which have been further compounded by significant vaccine supply demand.​ Never before have we had to distribute multiple doses to more than 15 billion individuals around the world, with more than 300 million in the U.S. alone.

The pandemic has also recharged the focus on vaccine hesitancy, a challenging and complex issue which, at its core, is about trust based on a person’s experience and perspective. According to the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, a growing share of the public is open to getting vaccinated, but many of the same groups that were hesitant in December 2020, when the first COVID-19 vaccines were released, remain hesitant now. When deciding whether to get vaccinated, most people say they will likely turn to pharmacists, doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers as the source for information. The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor also notes that 85 percent of people trust their own doctor or healthcare provider at least a fair amount for reliable vaccine information.

If we are going to mitigate the impact of this pandemic, we need to help build and maintain trust in COVID-19 vaccines. As an independent, nonprofit, scientific organization, U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) has been dedicated—for more than 200 years—to improving global health and building trust in medicine through public standards and related programs that help ensure the quality, safety, and benefit of our drugs. With our shared goals to provide patient access to quality medicines, USP is proud to be a founding member of the National Consumers League (NCL) Health Advisory Council. The Council’s informative communication and opportunities for engagement provide critical perspectives that help shape and inform USP’s strategic focus and initiatives. The Health Advisory Council also demonstrates the power of collaboration—which is a cornerstone of USP’s work.

By working together with stakeholders, partners in industry and the U.S. government, we are able to identify the COVID-19 vaccine operational challenges and also provide solutions. One of these solutions is the recently released USP COVID-19 Vaccine Handling Toolkit, which addresses gaps that slow getting shots in arms and helps healthcare practitioners safely deliver vaccines in a variety of settings.

As millions of additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines are released, the USP COVID-19 Vaccine Handling Toolkit is helping doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare practitioners create operational efficiencies to vaccinate more people in their communities quickly and safely, all the while maintaining quality. It includes strategies in three key areas:

  • Preparation and labeling to support different practitioners preparing and administering vaccines including how to maximize the number of doses per vial and enabling pre-drawing of vaccines in advance of large immunization events.
  • Storing, handling, and transporting the vaccine to mass vaccination clinics, nursing and long-term care facilities, and more.
  • Waste prevention and disposal to support settings in preventing vaccine waste and addressing gaps for vaccine administrators in proper disposal of ancillary supplies, such as syringes.

“Using the strategies from the USP Vaccine Handling Toolkit for pre-drawing syringes and streamlining our processes and workflow we increased shots in arms by 50% per day,” says Patricia W. Slattum, Pharm.D., Ph.D., BCGP, a vaccine administrator with the Virginia Medical Reserve Corp and Virginia Commonwealth University.

More than 40 independent expert volunteers along with U.S. government representatives developed this toolkit that enables healthcare practitioners to benefit from consistent, scientific-based strategies developed by independent experts that close efficiency gaps across states and territories.

The USP COVID-19 Vaccine Handling Toolkit is one of several initiatives USP is undertaking to support quality and build trust in COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and preventatives. For example, our Hand Sanitizer Toolkit, launched in spring 2020, is being used by many around the world to ensure quality preparation of this essential COVID-19 preventative.

As the nation’s pioneer consumer organization, that leads the charge on the importance of adherence to live-savings medicines, NCL plays a pivotal role in helping to build trust in vaccines. USP values the opportunity to share the COVID-19 Vaccine Handling Toolkit with NCL and looks ahead to future opportunities to partner with NCL and other stakeholders in the patient advocacy community.

As more is learned about COVID-19 vaccines, additional information will be shared in the future. We encourage NCL’s readers to sign-up for updates at www.usp.org/covid-vaccine-handling​.

About USP
USP is an independent scientific organization that collaborates with the world’s top experts in health and science to develop quality standards for medicines, dietary supplements, and food ingredients. Through our standards, advocacy, and education, USP helps increase the availability of quality medicines, supplements, and food for billions of people worldwide.

Jeanette Contreras portrait

Vaccine recommendations for those who recovered from COVID-19

By NCL Director of Health Policy Jeanette Contreras

As the United States prepares for the release of a third COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meets to discuss further implementation considerations that will inform guidance for the vaccine rollout. At its March 1 meeting, ACIP dedicated a portion of the discussion to whether those who’ve recovered from the virus should still be vaccinated.

To date, there are more than 28 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and experts estimate that the true number of individuals infected, yet not clinically confirmed, to be triple that amount, pushing the total prevalence to approximately 100 million. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that those who’ve recovered will have a certain amount of natural immunity to the virus for up to eight months after infection, which is in line with the findings of a major British study published in early February, in which 88 percent of participants who previously tested positive for COVID-19 still had antibodies after six months.

Considering that the demand is greater than the supply, it is a difficult task to make recommendations for the equitable distribution of vaccines. For example, Spain issued recommendations that patients wait six months after diagnosis to get vaccinated if an individual is under age 55 with no major health complications. People over 55, or those with health risks that make them vulnerable to reinfection, are exempt from this delay and encouraged to be vaccinated.

Additionally, early studies are showing that immunity in individuals who had recovered and received one shot may be equal to or even exceed those not infected who had received two doses. According to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a single dose of the Moderna or Pfizer mRNA vaccines would elicit an immune system response sufficient to provide comparable immunity to two doses in a non-infected person. On February 12, France became the first country to issue guidance recommending that people who have already recovered from COVID-19 only need to receive one dose of a vaccine, between 3 and 6 months after their infection.

Early research like this is informing public health policies in other countries. But the United States is known all over the world for its scientific rigor and reliance on randomized clinical trial data as a gold standard. In a recent blog, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins reassures us that, should other studies support these early results, the experts at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC will certainly consider whether one dose is enough.

The implementation of a one-dose vaccine would help to increase supply, however, the emergence of COVID-19 variants presents new challenges for curbing this pandemic. Current CDC guidance states that even if you’ve recovered from COVID-19, you should get vaccinated. Arming yourself with a vaccine will keep you and your family safe, and ultimately help to stave off new COVID-19 variants.

Preventing the spread of COVID-19: Testing & genetic sequencing efforts in response to emerging variants

With growing concerns regarding the impact of emerging COVID-19 variants, testing and genetic sequencing are critical components of broader return-to-work, return-to-school, and public health surveillance efforts.

Addressing health inequity: A critical step towards a successful national vaccine rollout strategy

Nissa Shaffi

By Nissa Shaffi, NCL Associate Director of Health Policy

The COVID-19 vaccines have provided much needed doses of hope as consumers eagerly wait for their shots. However — due to competing pressures of managing inadequate supplies, complex state-managed distribution plans, emerging viral variants, and unaddressed health disparities — the national vaccine rollout has fallen short of its intended goals.

To date, more than 40 million have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 16+ million people are currently fully-vaccinated. On average, providers around the country are administering 1.6 million doses per day. According to experts, 70 to 90 percent of the population will need to be vaccinated if we are to achieve herd immunity and return to normal everyday activities.

The delays in the vaccine rollout have been attributed to variations among states and territories, which have been expected to set their own distribution plans and eligibility criteria. All states have made the vaccine available for healthcare workers, and nearly 43 states and the District of Columbia have expanded their eligibility to include occupation-based vaccination programs. These include members of the non-medical essential workforce, like grocery store employees and police officers.

While vaccine hesitancy among some Americans remains a problem, it’s becoming less of a concern as more and more people are getting vaccinated. COVID-19 has further exposed both vulnerabilities in our infrastructure and social determinants of health — conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect their overall health — that threaten to impede access. Throughout the rollout, vulnerable communities have experienced barriers in booking vaccine appointments due to limited access to broadband, phones, and accessible, affordable transportation.

Vaccine hesitancy and social determinants of health remain the primary obstacles in the rollout process. Going forward, addressing health disparities will be a critical strategy in realizing a successful national response, because — without health equity — the virus will continue to ravage the most vulnerable communities. The National Consumers League supports comprehensive strategies to address the glaring disparities in health and access that COVID-19 has exposed.

Does your baby’s food contain toxic metals?

By Nailah John, Program Associate

As a mother, I once fed my baby with baby food only to later be told that some baby foods contain toxic metals at levels that exceed what experts and governing bodies say are safe. Congressional investigators have found dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals in many popular baby food brands. The World Health Organization says that the top 10 chemicals of concern for infants and children include arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.  This exposure to heavy metals in childhood is linked to permanent dips in IQ, an increased risk of future criminal activity, and damaged long-term brain function.

Some pediatricians and children’s health experts say that heavy metals are found in soil and contaminate crops grown in it. Heavy metals can also get into food during manufacturing and packaging processes. However, the amount that is allowed in baby food products exceeds the limit. The nonprofit Healthy Babies led a national investigation and found that 95 percent of baby foods tested contain toxic chemicals. Fifteen foods accounted for half the risk, with rice-based foods at the top. Making these food and lifestyle changes can help reduce toxic metal residue:

  • Choose rice-free snacks over rice-based ones. Try a frozen banana or a chilled cucumber instead of rice-based teething biscuits.
  • Opt for oatmeal over rice cereal.
  • Give tap water over fruit juice.
  • Rather than sticking strictly to baby food made from sweet potatoes and carrots (which contain higher levels of metals), opt for baby food made from other fruits and vegetables.
  • Make your own baby food by buying, washing, and blending your own fruits and vegetables.
  • Don’t get stuck in the baby food phase. Baby food is meant to be transitional, used only for a few months. Introduce your babies to sources of protein like fish—salmon, tuna, cod, whitefish, and pollock.
  • Visit the pediatrician often in the first two years of your child’s life. This can help to identify any developmental problems.
  • Limit heavy metal exposure in other ways. Heavy metals are also found in peeling or chipping paint in older homes built before 1978.
  • Don’t smoke or vape as secondhand and even thirdhand smoke (or residue from smoking on furniture or clothes) may expose children to metals like cadmium and lead.

While individuals can do their part, the most significant changes will have to come through enforced legislation and stronger regulations on baby food. According to the recent congressional report, toxic metals in tested baby food eclipse safe levels, “including results up to 91 times the arsenic level, up to 177 times the lead level, up to 69 times the cadmium level, and up to 5 times the mercury level.” The report recommended that the Food and Drug Administration require baby food manufacturers to test their finished products for toxic heavy metals and label products that contain them. One of the most powerful ways of creating change is by calling your Member of Congress and urging them to use their voice to address the issue of heavy toxic metals in baby foods. As a mother, I plan to do so and so should you.

What the new COVID-19 variants mean for consumers

Nissa Shaffi

By Nissa Shaffi, NCL Associate Director of Health Policy

Viruses mutate, and SARS CoV-2—more commonly known as COVID-19—is no exception to that rule. When a virus evolves and mutates from its predominant virus, all that we know about it changes as well. It may be too soon to glean what impact the variants could have on vaccine rollout and efficacy, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided the detailed evidence they’ve uncovered thus far.

Three new strains of COVID-19 have been identified presently in four countries: the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7), Japan and Brazil (P.1), and South Africa (B.1.351). These new variants have not been observed to be more deadly, nor have they made people sicker, but one thing they all have in common is that they are more contagious than COVID-19. Cases for these strains have been found in 33 countries, including the United States.

While the variants all differ slightly in their function, they all possess a specific mutation called D614G — a shared trait that allows these new strains to spread more quickly than the predominant virus. The strain found in the United Kingdom, B.1.1.7, has an estimated 50 percent transmissibility rate, or how quickly it spreads from person to person. Considering ongoing efforts to release new vaccines for inclusion in a national rollout to curb this pandemic, a mutating virus presents unique challenges for an already overburdened healthcare system.

So, what does this mean for travel, testing, vaccines, and so on? The CDC has released a helpful questionnaire for individuals to consider before they pursue travel, requesting that people delay non-essential travel whenever possible. For those that plan to travel, the CDC has released guidance which states that individuals traveling via air into the United States must provide proof of a negative test result or documentation of recovery, before boarding their flight. Masks are required on all forms of public transportation, including planes. The CDC has issued travel notices regarding global travel and each country’s corresponding risk-level.

Scientists are continuously gathering data to determine how the variants will impact the efficacy of certain therapies, vaccines, and tests. Until further evidence suggests, states are reluctant to enforce stringent lockdown procedures. According to public health experts, the best way to rein in the transmission of these highly contagious variants and to ensure a successful vaccine rollout, is to practice physical distancing and double masking. Layering two masks, as double masking suggests, provide added layers of protection and a better-fitting face covering. Not all masks are equal. To learn more about how to maximize protection against the coronavirus with masks, click here.

As new information emerges, it is important to adjust our safety measures to successfully navigate an ever evolving situation. Consumers are understandably experiencing pandemic-fatigue. Rest assured that the fruits of our collective efforts are closer than they appear, if only we work together towards protecting ourselves and our communities from unnecessary transmission.

Mask up! New Executive Order mandating mask-wearing a welcome development

Nissa Shaffi

By Nissa Shaffi, NCL Associate Director of Health Policy

On January 20, just hours following a historic inauguration, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) requiring mask-wearing on federal property and inside airports, planes, trains, ships, and intercity buses. Effective immediately, refusing to wear a mask in these locations will now be considered a federal offense. The President also called on governors and local health officials to encourage mask-wearing and social distancing. This comes as especially good news for airlines and their employees, as they now have a federal rule protecting them from passengers who refuse to wear masks inflight, in turn ensuring everyone’s safety.

The EO is the latest of many efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 by influencing behavior around this necessary public health measure. The mandate to require mask-wearing is also poised to complement President Biden’s call to action for the American public to commit to 100 days of mask-wearing, during the early days of his presidency. Epidemiologists agree that concerted efforts towards pandemic-related precautions can significantly reduce COVID-19 cases in the country, providing much-needed relief for health care facilities currently operating beyond maximum capacity.

Over the course of the pandemic, mask-wearing has unfortunately morphed into a highly polarizing political issue. More than 405,000 Americans have perished in the last year, and irresponsible behavior, such as a stubbornness towards wearing masks, will only further exacerbate the crisis. There are many contributing factors behind this phenomenon, but a lot of it distills down to misinformation and propaganda.

The bottom line is that masks save lives and are powerful tools in preventing the spread of COVID-19. They should be worn to protect the wearer, as well as those they come into contact with. The EO mandating the use of masks is a great step in encouraging civic responsibility in containing the virus. As we forge ahead in our persistence against the coronavirus, consumers are encouraged to maintain adherence to federal health guidance pertaining to physical distancing, the usage of masks, and other public health measures.

The evolution of American alcohol policy — and what’s next

By Nailah John, Program Associate

Alcohol is consumed by billions of consumers the world over. Humans drink alcohol for many reasons, including enjoying the taste or coping with stress while others consume alcohol because of social influences. More than 85 percent of people around the world consume alcohol. America’s alcohol policy has seen many ups and downs over many decades from prohibition in the 1920s to the end of prohibition in 1933, National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1988, the Alcohol Beverage Labeling Act 1988 (ABLA), and the continued efforts for a “Nutritional Facts Label” on all alcoholic beverages by consumer advocacy groups.

Every other consumable product on the supermarket shelves is required to have a Nutritional Facts Label. That label has a list of required information about a food’s nutrient content, such as the calories, protein, vitamins, fat, sugar, sodium, and fiber. This is critically important consumer information for guiding healthy choices.

After Prohibition In 1935, the Federal Alcohol Administration governed alcohol regulation. In 2003, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) was formed, and alcohol continued to be regulated by this federal agency. Since the 1970s, consumer advocacy groups have worked for a comprehensive label on all alcoholic products. In 2003, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the National Consumers League made a hard push for a nutritional facts label. Manufacturers asked for voluntary labels, making the argument that putting nutrition facts on all bottled of alcohol would make consumers think that alcohol was nutritious. In 2004, TTB sided with manufacturers and issued guidelines that allowed them to list calories, carbs, protein, and fat­—but only if they wished to do so voluntarily. In 2021, NCL and other groups are recommitting ourselves to this consumer information campaign.

The Dietary Guidelines 2020-2025 lay out the existing recommendations for sugar and alcohol, which recommend moderate alcohol consumption––up to one alcoholic drink per day for women and up to two per day for men. The CDC warns that alcohol consumption is associated with a variety of short and long-term health risks: high blood pressure, various cancers, motor vehicle accidents, violence, and sexually risky behavior. The CDC guidelines also note that pregnant women should refrain from alcohol consumption and that those with certain condition should avoid alcohol. That is true as well with certain medications.

More than half—55 percent—of Americans say they have had alcohol in the past month. An estimated 14.5 million American adults age 12 and older battled an alcohol use disorder, or 5.3 percent of this population. The bottom line is that if you drink, do so in moderation per the CDC and DGAC guidelines. And join with consumer advocates fighting for a nutritional facts label to be put on all alcoholic beverages.

COVID vaccine: Credit where credit is due

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

It’s almost a miracle. We now have safe and effective vaccines to fight SARS CoV2, commonly known as COVID-19, the devastating illness that has swept across the globe and—as of January 16, 2021—has killed more than 390,938 Americans and infected 23.5 million in less than a year.

Nearly 40 percent of those who’ve died were beloved older Americans in long-term care facilities, where the disease spread like wildfire, and who were often unable to say goodbye to loved ones.

Sadly, many who contracted the illness and survived spent lengthy hospital stays clinging to life on respirators. Of those who recovered, millions report COVID’s debilitating long-term effects. The United States has four percent of the world’s population but nearly a fifth of its recorded coronavirus deaths—the most of any country. Think of this: we have lost in less than one year eight times the number of Americans who died in the whole Vietnam war, and nine times the number who die in car accidents each year.

But now there’s light at the end of the tunnel because, in record time, America’s pharmaceutical companies have successfully developed safe and highly effective vaccines. Since the SARS CoV 2’s grip over America in late March of 2020, all medical experts could talk about—beyond washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing—was getting a vaccine to prevent this illness. But vaccines typically take many years to develop so, we were told, don’t hold your breath. And yet here we are.

Consumer groups and members of Congress have been known to criticize the pharmaceutical industry. I get it; too many drugs are expensive and out of reach for millions of Americans, and that must be addressed. But it’s also important to acknowledge value of the public private partnership and the vast resources these companies have put into the R&D and bringing to market life-saving vaccines.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example. The leading vaccines developed for COVID-19 are here, thanks to the dedication of industry leaders and scientists. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla shifted the company’s focus to singlemindedly developing a COVID vaccine, leveraging its substantial scientific and medical expertise, as well as 20 years of research on previous SARS-like illnesses. Pfizer committed hundreds of millions of dollars of its own resources to building a manufacturing network, and companies agreed to share their knowhow. These efforts were critical in achieving an effective and safe vaccine in record time. And in creating a distribution system that could maintain the very cold temperatures needed to preserve, especially the Pfizer vaccine, before it is administered.

Our government doesn’t have the resources to make that happen alone. Yes, something close to $10 billion in taxpayer dollars through Operation Warp Speed went to companies to assist with the rapid development of a vaccine, but Pfizer didn’t accept government funding for the initial development of the vaccine (though the company did receive $1.95 billion for manufacturing and nationwide distribution of 100 million doses).

And now we have Moderna, which also received more than $1 billion in funding, joining Pfizer in making available a two-dose vaccine that is safe and 95 percent effective, with Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Novavax not far behind with vaccines that may only require one dose. The public-private partnership model works. And consumers won’t have to pay to receive these shots. Experts tell us we should have five vaccines available by March or April, which is important because it gives healthcare providers options for different populations.

The next challenge is getting it into the arms of enough of us so that we can reach herd immunity, which means at least 60-70 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated.

And while this process has been disappointingly slow, this is largely because states haven’t been given adequate resources from the federal government to support a massive vaccination program. That said, more than a million Americans and counting have now been vaccinated and, under the incoming Biden-Harris Administration and a Democratic Congress, vast additional resources will be going to support for states and localities. The good news for vaccines is that there is high demand for the shots. My own Washington, DC community has offered thousands of appointments for shots online in the morning and they are taken immediately.

We have many to thank for this vaccine’s rapid development, but we must acknowledge the success of this uniquely American public-private partnership. We applaud the heroic work of Pfizer, Moderna, and the other companies to speed R&D and clinical trials of thousands of patients, to ensure a vaccine that is safe and effective. And kudos also to the trusted scientists at FDA and CDC for reviewing the data, ensuring the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, and approving them.

A special thanks is due to two esteemed FDA directors: former director Dr. Scott Gottlieb and our current FDA head Dr. Stephen Hahn, who gave us the straight scoop this past year and promised and delivered on FDA’s integrity and reliance on science throughout the process. And of course, we owe a deep debt of gratitude to our national hero, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who provided honest, science-based advice to the American people throughout these tense and trying times, despite pressure from the Trump Administration to play down the pandemic. Americans clearly agree, as evidenced by “Thank You, Dr. Fauci” signs on lawns across America!