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Saturday, February 27th, 2021

Rep. Lucas introduces legislation to authorize more research for COVID-19 fight

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U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced a bill in the House that authorizes additional scientific research to fight the novel coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

The legislation — the Computing Opportunities to Vanquish Infectious Diseases Research Act of 2020 (the COVID Research Act) — authorizes the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) interagency working group on Emerging Infectious Disease Prediction and Forecasting to develop a national strategy to address infectious diseases.

Further, it would establish the National Academies of Science Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Disease and 21st Century Health Threats as a standing advisory committee of experts to provide scientific advice to the interagency working group.

“One of the most valuable things we in Congress can do in the fight against COVID-19 is give our federal scientific agencies the resources needed to provide an immediate response and to better prepare us for future disease outbreaks,” Lucas, ranking member on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, said. “Our National Labs have already shown the value of using high-performance supercomputing and advanced research facilities to model the novel coronavirus, understand its effects on human cells, and predict its spread. The federal research community is doing great work and using their considerable talents to fight this pandemic and address the many challenges it has caused. The COVID Research Act authorizes a strategic and coordinated approach, so our scientists and researchers have the resources they need to succeed.”

Further, the bill includes provisions to support the research being done at the Department of Energy. Specifically, it authorizes $50 million for DOE’s Infectious Disease Research Program over the next two years.

The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Randy Weber (R-TX), Brian Babin (R-TX), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Bill Posey (R-FL), Pete Olson (R-TX), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Francis Rooney (R-FL), and Greg Murphy (R-NC).