Critics say Congress failed to prepare for a pandemic

Proponents urge Congress to allocate more funds to prepare for future pandemics after prep funds are received President BidenJoe BidenJudge Denies Trump’s Motion To Postpone Jan 6 Document Release, Citing Money – Biden’s Fight Against Inflation Overnight Defense & National Security – Concerns About Russia Rise To MOREThe $ 1.75 trillion social spending and climate package has been scaled back.

Proponents of increased funding say that following the devastating toll of COVID-19, preventing future pandemics should be a priority.

The White House originally proposed $ 30 billion in pandemic preparation in Biden’s Build Back Better package. In September, it cut its proposal to a $ 15 billion deposit with a goal of spending $ 65 billion over seven to 10 years.

But the current package, which is going through Congress, only includes $ 10 billion in pandemic preparedness.

“We cannot afford to be unprepared for the next pandemic,” said Gabe Bankman-Fried, advocacy group founder Guarding Against Pandemics, who argued that Congress “cut” the White House’s request.

“With full funding, we can invest in research and development to use vaccines, track threats and create more effective PPE,” he added.

Rep. Ritchie Torres (DN.Y.) said a lack of adequate pandemic preparedness was the “Achilles’ heel” of the “Build Back Better” package, which has scaled back a whole range of priorities as lawmakers seek to address a number of Programs under a. accommodate shrinking sales that were once $ 3.5 trillion and are now $ 1.75 trillion.

“So far we are dropping the ball on preparing for a pandemic,” said Torres.

The roughly $ 10 billion in the package includes $ 7 billion in broader public health funding to support state and local health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on tasks such as updating outdated IT systems and the Support hiring more employees.

Some groups say the remaining $ 3 billion is especially meager for areas like upgrading laboratories and working directly on vaccines and treatments for different types of viruses.

That $ 3 billion includes $ 1.3 billion that can go to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a branch of the Department of Health that directs work on vaccines, tests, and treatments.

Anita Cicero, associate director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said $ 1.3 billion “really missed out on this necessary investment.”

She said a larger investment in BARDA would enable vaccines to be developed for different virus families so that if a new threat arises, it would take less time to get a vaccine against that virus to market.

Guarding Against Pandemics argues that an additional $ 2.5 billion for BARDA “can prepare for the next pandemic – today”.

“We don’t ask much,” said Sean McElwee, co-founder of the progressive think tank Data for Progress, which works with Guarding Against Pandemics. “That’s a $ 1.75 trillion bill.”

When the White House unveiled its $ 65 billion pandemic prep plan in September, it likened the effort to the Apollo lunar missions.

However, Cicero said she was concerned that the plan would only be left as “a smart, unfunded mandate” if that funding never actually comes about.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on whether it considers the money currently included in the Build Back Better package to be appropriate to prepare for a pandemic.

The funding currently included in the bill “pales in comparison to what the White House at least thinks is necessary,” said Anand Parekh, senior medical advisor to the bipartisan Policy Center, although he said the money could still ” be positive “if it is viewed as a” deposit “.

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn Murray Senators urge federal investigation into Liberty University’s handling of sexual assault allegations The Hill’s 12:30 Report: House Dems urges infrastructure bill to be voted Democrats mad at women for loss of paid vacation MORE (D-Wash.), The chair of the Senate Health Committee, pointed out a few additional avenues for pandemic preparedness, including the regular approval process and bipartisan pandemic preparation legislation that she is involved with with Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze Burr Former GOP MP Mark Walker calling for NC Senate candidacy to be dropped, House of Representatives running for Financial Corruption and a Return to Founding Principles Shaping Our Future Beyond Climate Crisis MORE (RN.C.).

“We need to remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to public health and preventive care,” she said in a statement. “I urge that every opportunity I get to put this lesson into action – including prioritizing our public health and preparedness infrastructure in Build Back Better, the budget proposal I put forward for next year, and the bipartisan legislation I do.” continue to negotiate with Senator Burr. “

The next year’s health spending bill, approved by the Murray Subcommittee on Funds, would provide the CDC with approximately $ 2 billion in additional funding.

Cicero said the “good news” in the “Build Back Better” package is the $ 7 billion public health infrastructure as state and local health agencies have been underfunded for decades.

However, she said more funding would be needed for the vaccines, treatments and tests. “You really can’t do one without the other,” she said.

Torres, the New York lawmaker, said part of the problem was that there wasn’t as much organized advocacy for funding pandemic preparedness as there was for other issues, saying it wasn’t as “sexy” as issues like this Climate change.

For BARDA in particular, he is pushing for more funds.

“Congress could suffer from amnesia over the worst of COVID-19,” he said, adding, “A few billion dollars is a pathetic response to the worst pandemic in United States history.”

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