White House unveils $ 65 billion plan to fight new pandemics (2)


The Biden administration unveiled a $ 65.3 billion plan to prepare for future pandemic threats, comparing the ambitious proposal to the Apollo mission to the moon.

The proposal announced Friday by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and National Security Council focuses on protecting the United States from potentially catastrophic biological threats, including those that occur naturally, accidentally, or deliberately triggered by bad actors.

“There is a reasonable probability that another serious pandemic which could be worse than Covid-19 will occur soon, and possibly even in the next decade,” Eric lander, director of the Office for Science and Technology Policy, said during a briefing with reporters. “For the first time in the country’s history, we have the opportunity, thanks to these kinds of scientific and technological advances, not only to rebuild our stocks, but also to transform our capacities.

White House appeals to vaccine leader in pandemic preparedness campaign

Considering the toll the Covid-19 pandemic has taken on American lives and the American economy, Lander added, “We really need to start preparing now.” The proposal also highlights the accelerating rate of emergence of new infectious diseases due to population growth, climate change and habitat loss as a reason to launch the effort now.

White House decision highlights contrast to former president’s administration Donald trump, whose National Security Council eliminated in 2018 a unit that oversaw planning for future pandemics.

The Biden administration said the funds should be “allocated to a single, unified ‘mission control’ office” in the Ministry of Health and Social Services over a period of seven to ten years, according to the strategy document, which was released on Friday afternoon. The office is intended to emulate other efforts that have drawn expertise from several government agencies, including the president John F. Kennedyof the Apollo program, which landed the first humans on the moon in 1969.

“Like any ambitious endeavor, whether it’s going to the moon with the Apollo mission or deciphering human DNA with the Human Genome Project, an effort like this will require serious commitment and responsibility, and supported, ”Lander said.

Recommended allowances

All funding will have to be assigned by Congress. The plan, called “US pandemic preparedness: transforming our capabilities, recommends:

  • $ 24.2 billion for vaccine development;
  • $ 11.8 billion for drug development;
  • $ 6.5 billion for strengthening public health infrastructure in the United States;
  • $ 5 billion to improve testing;
  • $ 3.1 billion for surveillance systems for detection, plus $ 2.3 billion for real-time surveillance;
  • and $ 3.1 billion for personal protective equipment, among other allowances

“It’s critical that we start with an initial down payment of $ 15 billion to $ 20 billion to jumpstart these efforts,” Lander said. “We propose that the current fiscal reconciliation provide at least $ 15 billion to achieve this goal.”

The Biden administration calls the investment a drop in the bucket. The United States spends $ 170 billion a year to prevent terrorism, according to the proposal, which suggests that “it’s hard to imagine an economic – or human – return on domestic investment” higher than such a plan. preperation.

Bloomberg first reported on Friday morning that the OSTP would lead efforts to create a new pandemic preparedness office.

As part of the new venture, the White House has called in Matthew Hepburn, director of Covid vaccine development for the Countermeasures Acceleration Group, formerly known as Operation Warp Speed, according to people familiar with the matter.

Beginning October 1, Hepburn will begin serving as a direct report to Lander, bolstering the U.S. government’s vaccine, therapeutic and diagnostic capabilities, among other goals outlined in the proposal.

The people, who asked not to be named because full details of the plan are not yet public, said the OSTP will oversee the scattered funding for biodefense. Hepburn’s full-time position will focus on managing the “American Pandemic Preparedness” program across the various HHS agencies.

Five-part proposal

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that the country’s medical supply chains are in need of an overhaul and additional funding. Health workers were unable to obtain enough personal protective equipment during much of the pandemic, and hospitals continue to struggle to obtain enough oxygen.

The proposal reflects on these gaps and describes five areas of ‘urgent need’ for investment, including expanding the arsenal of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, strengthening surveillance of infectious disease threats, improving interventions. emergency response, reconstitution of protective equipment and management of the multi-pronged biodefense effort.

Through this plan, the Biden administration would aim to develop an effective vaccine against “any human virus” within 100 days of a pandemic threat is identified, and to produce sufficient supply for all of the United States within 130 days. days.

The proposed office would also be responsible for ensuring simple and inexpensive diagnostic tests that can be deployed on a large scale within weeks of detecting a viral threat. It will also develop these detection and surveillance capabilities, according to the plan.

Finally, the office will fill stocks that have been depleted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as creating secure supply chains by having greater US-based manufacturing capacity. To address PPE shortages, the office is reportedly working to develop new types of masks, gowns and other supplies.

The office’s focus would primarily focus on improvements in national preparedness, but would involve working globally to prevent laboratory accidents, a topic that has received renewed attention due to uncertainty over the how Covid-19 started.

(Updates with details everywhere)

To contact journalists on this story:
Riley griffon in New York at rgriffin42@bloomberg.net;
Shira stein in Arlington at sstein51@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Timothy annett at tannett@bloomberg.net

Marc Schoifet

© 2021 Bloomberg LP All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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