Dr. Hahn and the other three doctors testifying Wednesday — Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease expert; Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the testing czar — told the Senate panel, that if the F.D.A. gave emergency approval to a vaccine, they would take it and recommend that their families do so as well.
It was an echo of an earlier era when Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, tested it on himself and his children before giving it to patients. “If a vaccine is shown to be and proven to be and authorized by the F.D.A. to be safe and effective, I certainly would take that vaccine. I would recommend to my family that they take that vaccine,” Dr. Fauci said.
Dr. Redfield also faced questions on his agency’s guidelines for testing, issued last month, that suggested certain people exposed to the virus did not need to be screened. Internal documents show the guidance had been posted on the C.D.C.’s website despite serious objections from agency scientists, and the agency reversed it last week after widespread criticism.
On Wednesday, Dr. Redfield said, however, that the intent of the agency’s guidance “was never to limit testing of asymptomatic individuals.” And while he said the “original guidance was produced with “full engagement of individuals at C.D.C.,” he did not dispute that it had not undergone the agency’s scientific review, and said the final guidance was “a cooperative document” produced with participation from Adm. Brett Giroir and the coronavirus task force.
Dr. Redfield also said that preliminary results from a study on the prevalence of Covid-19 “show that more than 90 percent of population remains susceptible” to the disease.
Looming over the hearing is the threat of a public scolding by Mr. Trump if he hears testimony he doesn’t like. Last week the president rebuked Dr. Redfield after he told a Senate committee that a vaccine would not be widely available until the middle of next year and that masks were so vital in fighting the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, that they may be even more important than a vaccine.
Senator Lamar Alexander, chairman of the committee, urged Congress to start planning for the next pandemic, warning that experts say one could come as soon as next year. “We must act now to stop the cycle of panic, neglect, panic,” he said.