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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is scheduled to testify about political interference in the nation’s COVID-19 response before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Friday.
Watch Azar’s testimony in our video player above.
The health secretary’s testimony comes hours after President Donald Trump tweeted that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19. Azar last testified before Congress in February, shortly after doctors officially confirmed the virus had reached the United States. Since then, the U.S. has recorded more than 207,000 deaths due to the virus. In recent weeks, the Trump administration has come under renewed scrutiny for attempts to influence official guidance, reportedly over the objections of government scientists.
In August, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma, despite incomplete clinical trials exploring its safety and efficacy as a treatment for COVID-19 patients. The agency later walked back its guidance.
That same month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that people without coronavirus symptoms do not need to be tested, despite mounting evidence that asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission was responsible for a substantial portion of new cases. By mid-September, the nation’s public health agency reversed its position, saying people with no symptoms still need to get tested.
Such inconsistencies have bred concern that politics, and not science, have been leading the American response to a global pandemic.
Laura Santhanam is the Data Producer for the PBS NewsHour. Follow @LauraSanthanam
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