The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a bill this week that would authorize U.S. participation in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a public-private partnership developing vaccines for coronavirus and other infectious pathogens.
The legislation, the Securing America From Epidemics (SAFE) Act, was introduced by U.S. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA).
“It is critically important that we join international efforts to defeat COVID-19,” Bera, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, said. “The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations is helping to lead those efforts by funding several vaccine candidates. I believe in American ingenuity but we need to take a portfolio approach to vaccine development. There’s no guarantee that a U.S.-backed vaccine will be developed first and or be effective for all Americans.”
The SAFE Act was also included in the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives approved in May.
“By joining CEPI, we will help ensure that we have access to vaccines the international community is developing,” Bera added. “We also know that until this virus is defeated around the world, we will not be safe here at home. Our world and our economies are simply too interconnected.”
Bera chaired the first congressional hearing on the coronavirus on Feb. 5, and sounded the alarm after the Trump Administration disbanded the global health security office in the National Security Council in 2018. Also, Bera is a member of the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security, which made a series of recommendations to prevent pandemics in November 2019.