The bipartisan Cure the Coronavirus Act ( H.R. 6019) was introduced this week in the House in response to a growing presence of COVID-19 in the United States.
Through the legislation, U.S. Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA-), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) have moved to reduce regulatory hurdles to creating and launching such a drug or vaccine. Currently, the country has reported more than 100 confirmed cases and six deaths.
“The Coronavirus is now an international public health crisis,” Jeffries said. “Congress must do the most we can to reduce the regulatory hurdles for discovering and launching a new drug or vaccine that can treat the Coronavirus Disease 2019 before more lives are lost.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the 2019 coronavirus disease outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern at the end of January. Since then, they have raised its global threat levels to the highest rating, as cases have surged to more than 90,000 and deaths to more than 3,000 worldwide.
“We need to take immediate and decisive action to combat the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus,” Cárdenas said. “Thousands have died and we are now seeing dozens of cases across the United States including in my home state of California. While Congress appropriates funds to address this epidemic, we must also do what we can to remove unnecessary red tape and reduce bureaucratic walls that will delay research into drugs that may save lives.”
In the United States, Washington state has been the hardest hit, with a genetic study showing that the virus may have been spreading within the state for more than six weeks.
“I’m proud to join my colleagues in offering this bipartisan bill that prioritizes the review of newly developed treatment for COVID-19; if bureaucratic red tape gets in the way of viable treatments, we’re unnecessarily putting lives at risk,” Herrera Beutler said. “We will be infinitely more effective in containing and preventing the spread of the coronavirus in this nation if we work in a cooperative, bipartisan fashion and focus on solutions.”
So far, there are no vaccinations or drugs available to treat COVID-19, though the Food and Drug Administration has issued an Emergency Use Authorization allowing labs to test potential treatments.