US Senate Proposes Pandemic Preparedness Response Bill
Leaders from the Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) of the US Senate have released a discussion draft of bipartisan legislation to examine the public health and medical preparedness and response systems in the US in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislation is the result of months of bipartisan work to examine what has worked, and what has not, during the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to incorporates ideas from multiple members on both parties on how to respond to future pandemics.
The bill, titled the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act), includes input from HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), who co-authored the bill, and Ranking Member Senator Richard Burr (R-NC). The discussion draft is also informed by a series of policy briefs released by Senator Burr throughout 2021 that examined the federal government’s pandemic response.
Among the measures being considered are ways to strengthen the supply chain and government stockpiles of medical products, such as masks, drugs, vaccines, and tests. Full details of what’s included in the discussion draft of the PREVENT Pandemics Act can be found here.
The Senators say they are also continuing to work with fellow legislators on additional provisions to include in the final bill. Proposed measures under consideration include: strengthening biomedical advanced research through the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H); improving laboratory safety and security; establishing clear leadership across the US government in future responses; and ensuring the continued accountability and oversight of response agencies. These measures will be considered in the coming weeks (as reported on January 25, 2022).