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House Republicans Are Set to Get Covid Response Hearings Off with a ‘Bang’

The House GOP is set to launch hearings this week as part of its investigation into the U.S. government’s response to the Covid pandemic.

The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic is planning to investigate the regulatory process of authorizing and approving Covid-19 vaccines, how these mRNA shots were authorized so quickly, why these vaccines were mandated for all Americans, even those who were not at significant risk, and why ‘natural immunity’ following prior infection was ignored by the scientific community.

One goal of the committee is making sure the United States is prepared for future pandemics, “and that includes perfecting our vaccine development,” Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) told The Epoch Times via email. “In order to do so, we must have complete transparency in vaccine research, clinical trials and adverse reactions, and manufacturing.”

“I expect our oversight hearings will shed light on the FDA approval process, the potential for side effects, and ultimately the success rate and safety of the vaccine—each of which will help us to navigate future global health emergencies,” she added.

Rep. Rich McCormick (R-GA), another member, said the panel “will be performing a comprehensive review of how the vaccines were developed, approved, and mandated.”

McCormick, who is a doctor, told the Epoch Times that he is concerned about how data on possible side effects has been collected. He also wants to look into how children as young as 6 months old have been encouraged to get a primary series and at least one booster, “given the lack of scientific evidence for a benefit, coupled with real concerns about possible harm for an otherwise immune person.”

“People do deserve to know about the long term safety and efficacy of the vaccine. A lot of the things that were told to us, like ‘they prevent transmission’ and all of that, was not true. So people will have concerns and those concerns should be addressed,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) commented in the report.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which clears vaccines, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which decides whether to recommend vaccines, “increasingly bypassed their expert advisory panels during the pandemic after the panels pushed back against decisions like advocating for boosters before a review of trial data was complete,” the report noted.

“We need to know who made the decision to bypass the standard vaccine approval processes,” Lesko, a subcommittee member, said.

Lesco also had scathing remarks on the Covid-19 vaccine mandates.

“The Covid-19 vaccine mandates were a clear abuse of government authority, and we need to know who made the formal decision to implement these mandates. Additionally, I believe we need answers on the data from the Covid-19 clinical trials, given the significant disparity between the trials and real-world effects from these vaccines,” Lesko said. “I hope we can get to the bottom of these issues, and I am proud to work with my colleagues to get the long-overdue answers the American people deserve.”

In mid-February, House Republicans asked former White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and at least a dozen other public health officials to testify before Congress for the investigation, which will also probe the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The GOP leaders of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic and Committee on Oversight and Accountability sent a letter to Fauci requesting a transcribed interview. Fauci said in November he would cooperate with any oversight hearing in the Republican-led House, CNBC reported.

“If there are oversight hearings I absolutely will cooperate fully and testify before the Congress,” Fauci told reporters during his final briefing at the White House. “I have no trouble testifying — we can defend and explain everything that we’ve said.”

On Tuesday, House Republicans will hold a hearing for the Covid investigation, which will be livestreamed online at 2 p.m. eastern. Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, Dr. Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University, and Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins are slated to testify.

The Chair of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic and Committee is being chaired by Brad Wenstrup (R-OH). The Ranking Member is Raul Ruiz (D-CA). Republican members include Nicole Malliotakis (NY), Marianette Miller-Meeks (IA), Debbie Lesko (AZ), Michael Cloud (TX), John Joyce (PA), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), and Rich McCormick (GA).

The House Democratic minority’s members include Debbie Dingell (MI), Kweise Mfume (MD), Deborah Ross (NC), Robert Garcia (CA), Ami Bera (CA), and Jill Tokuda (HI).

The House Democrats in December published a highly partisan Covid-19 investigation report, which they declared to be final and authoritative. The report blamed Donald Trump multiple times for the Covid-19 pandemic response, even as the federal government and state governments trampled on the U.S. Constitution and citizens’ rights to enact policies, such as lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine mandates.

“These factors were exacerbated by the Trump Administration’s disastrous initial response in 2020,”  said the report issued by the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn. “The Trump Administration failed to recognize the looming threat as reports of a novel pathogen emerged in early January and failed to take sufficient measures to prepare the country by developing adequate testing or acquiring sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical supplies.”

The Democrats’ report contained little condemnation of China for misleading the world on the pandemic, except to blame the Trump administration for its policies towards the communist country.

“Once the coronavirus outbreak erupted into a full-blown crisis, the Trump Administration engaged in an unprecedented campaign to control and even manipulate the work of scientists leading the public health response,” the report went on. “The Trump White House blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from conveying accurate information to the public, installed political operatives who sought to downplay the pandemic, and even attempted to alter and manipulate CDC guidance, scientific studies, and public health orders to serve political goals. The Trump White House also sought to interfere in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorization of coronavirus treatments and vaccines, pressuring FDA officials to reauthorize hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment after it was shown to be ineffective and potentially dangerous, rushing FDA to accelerate the authorization of convalescent plasma, and even blocking the release of coronavirus vaccine guidance out of fear that recommended safety protocols would delay the authorization of a vaccine until after the 2020 presidential election.”

“On top of all of this, the Trump Administration embraced a dangerous and discredited herd immunity via mass infection strategy many months before vaccines were available,” the report added. “The Trump Administration’s reckless pandemic response resulted in devastating and lasting harm. The toll of the coronavirus fell hardest on those who were already most vulnerable. Communities of color suffered disproportionally high rates of coronavirus infection, hospitalization, and death. Nursing home residents suffered high levels of infections and deaths, exacerbated by understaffing and meager wages and benefits for their workers. Upon taking office, the Biden Administration led a historic vaccination campaign, administering 200 million coronavirus vaccine doses within 100 days. Yet corporate entities that failed to live up to their obligations to address the public health crisis threatened to undermine this effort, as did predatory actors who promoted misinformation, fueled by right-wing extremists and others seeking to profit by selling discredited and dangerous treatments. The rampant spread of misinformation has led to damaging distrust in public health expertise. It has also contributed to harassment, threats, and attacks on public health officials working on the coronavirus response and convinced far too many Americans to decline lifesaving coronavirus vaccines—resulting in hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths.”

Despite the Democratic-led committee’s hyperbole about the “herd immunity” strategy, the CDC just issued a major report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases conceding that natural immunity is superior to vaccinated immunity in nearly every aspect. The report then shifted to blaming the Trump administration for the economic damage done by the “coronavirus crisis.”

“The economic toll of the coronavirus crisis also brought devastation to American families, inflicting particular harm on those who were already struggling,” the report said. “The pandemic-induced economic crisis led to 20 million Americans losing their jobs in April 2020 alone, pushing the unemployment rate from 2.5% to 14.7% in just two months. This devastation fell hardest on low-income workers and their families, who were disproportionately women and people of color and were more likely to work in hard hit sectors that experienced closures and disruptions. These workers were also more likely to lack the financial protection needed to cope with sudden losses of income and critical workplace benefits like paid leave needed to withstand a health crisis.”

An exhaustive Johns Hopkins University comparative analysis published in January 2022 found that strict lockdowns failed to significantly reduce Covid-related deaths. A recent study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University found no evidence that vaccine mandates in 9 of America’s largest cities had any significant impact on Covid cases or deaths.

“We find no evidence that the announcement or implementation of indoor vaccine mandate in the cities listed had any significant effect on vaccine uptake, COVID-19 cases, or COVID-19 deaths, and this is largely consistent for all US cities that implemented the mandate,” said a working paper on the study, titled, “Indoor Vaccine Mandates in US Cities, Vaccination Behavior, and COVID-19 Outcomes.”

The authors found that “[m]illions of people were prevented from entering restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters, sports arenas, and other public indoor areas without proof of COVID-19 vaccination,” with people and businesses facing “large disruptions.”

“Most supporters of the mandates claim that the associated increase in vaccination rates, and its implied reduction in the spread of COVID-19, outweigh the cost of the disruptions. However, we find that the effects of the mandates on their intended outcomes are not statistically noticeable in any of the cities they were implemented in all empirical strategies used,” they added.

The best evidence that the United States’ Covid response was a complete failure is that excess mortality rates persist above baseline more than three years into a global pandemic that killed less than 0.1 percent of the population.

Republican members of the House Oversight Committee have thus far been able to unearth important documents, such as those showing Dr. Fauci and former National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Dr. Francis Collins making an effort in early 2020 to stamp out discussion of the lab-leak hypothesis—even though scientists convened by Dr. Fauci thought a lab origin of SARS-CoV-2 was a plausible or even a likely hypothesis.

The Republican-led Congress has a duty to the American people to get full accountability over the Covid pandemic response. That means more than holding an “explosive hearing.” That means actual consequences for incompetent, negligent, and fraudulent misconduct.


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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.