Center for Health Security Senior Scholar Dr. Crystal Watson Testifies at US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security
On February 24, 2021, Dr. Crystal Watson, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provided expert testimony at a congressional hearing on perspectives about the COVID-19 pandemic one year later.
The hearing was convened by the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security.
Dr. Watson’s testimony provided an update on the status of the pandemic and the US government’s response efforts to date; major successes and failures of the last year; and what we should anticipate and prepare for in the coming weeks and months.
“One year later, thanks to the efforts of scientific and public health leaders, we have answers to many of the open questions of early 2020 and are beginning to vaccinate Americans in large numbers. Significantly though, we also have evidence that our national response did not meet its potential and that many thousands of unnecessary deaths have occurred as a result,” said Dr. Watson. “I am hopeful that our response to the remainder of the pandemic will be much more evidence-based, coordinated, and effective.”
Dr. Watson provided recommendations for the weeks and months ahead:
- The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense should invest in pathogen agnostic platform technologies with the goal of quickly developing new medical countermeasures against novel viruses.
- The current Administration should continue to prioritize strong leadership for the response in federal agencies, including by appointing an Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the Department of Health and Human Services as soon as possible.
- The federal government should continue to ensure that sufficient federal support and resources are being provided to enable equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
- The federal government should continue to make every investment necessary to prepare for the possibility of updating vaccines to protect against immune escape.
Read the full testimony. (PDF)