The White House on Friday unveiled a 10-year, $ 65.3 billion pandemic preparedness plan that it compared to the Apollo moon mission. He called on Congress to immediately allocate at least $ 15 billion in the budget reconciliation bill for the effort – half the amount President Biden originally proposed.
The plan, written by Biden’s science adviser and his National Security Council, would establish a full-time “mission control” office that would coordinate the work of government agencies to detect emerging threats and prepare the country for them. combat.
âWe have a tremendous amount to do for this pandemic, and we have to really think about creating capacities that may take several years to develop, but they can be really transformative for the next event that we will surely see in the decades to come. Said Dr Eric Lander, one of the two officials who presented the plan to reporters.
The $ 15 billion would be a compromise. In March, the White House announced that its U.S. jobs plan would include $ 30 billion for pandemic preparedness. But in Capitol Hill, where moderate Democrats are pushing to lower the price of the $ 3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, a figure of $ 8 billion for pandemic preparedness has been considered.
Some Democrats have repeatedly called for the initial $ 30 billion to be included in the reconciliation package. Among them is Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts. Ms Warren and six of her fellow Democrats recently wrote to House and Senate leaders from both parties, calling on them to include $ 30 billion in the budget.
âThe Covid-19 pandemic has made it clear that underinvestment in our public health infrastructure, our biomedical research pipeline and our medical supply chain has dire consequences,â the senators wrote.
The Guarding Against Pandemics advocacy group is also appeal to Congress to put $ 30 billion for pandemic preparedness in the budget bill. The group is concerned that while there has been a huge investment in the fight against Covid-19, lawmakers are not neglecting the prevention of future pandemics.
Dr Lander was joined on Friday by Elizabeth Cameron, senior director of global health security and biodefense at the National Security Council – a post she held in the Obama White House, where she wrote a preparation document known as the pandemic manual. She said the Biden plan “builds a lot on those efforts,” as well as “on the lessons of this pandemic.”
According to documents released by the White House, the plan has five main objectives: to improve and expand the national arsenal of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics; improving surveillance of infectious disease threats; strengthening of the public health system, with “particular emphasis on reducing inequalities”; building up the supply chain and stock, including personal protective equipment; and “managing the mission” by creating a new mission control office – a task Dr. Lander compared to the Apollo mission of sending astronauts to the moon in the 1960s.
“If you go to the moon and you have a super booster rocket but you don’t have a capsule that can land on work computers that can steer, it won’t work,” he said. declared.