U.S. Reps. John Larson (D-CT) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) recently introduced the Pandemic Supplies Production Act designed to nationalize the production and distribution of supplies deemed essential to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we fight through this second surge of COVID-19, we need to make sure we have the supplies to combat the virus,” Larson said. “The Pandemic Supplies Production Act would not only boost production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), tests, therapeutics, and the vaccine when it’s available, but it will also centralize the distribution of these supplies by utilizing the Defense Logistics Agency. We need national leadership on this, not 50 different solutions.”
The United States remains the most heavily hit by the disease. To date, more than 15.6 million cases have emerged in the states, resulting in nearly 300,000 deaths.
As a direct response to this, the new legislation would seek to gather information on the private sector’s manufacturing capabilities surrounding equipment, supplies, therapeutics, and vaccines needed to combat COVID-19. It would then mandate the Defense Production Act be invoked to match the supply and capacity needed to meet the demand for these supplies — both through COVID-19 and future pandemics. It would also create a new agency to lead the acquisition and distribution of such supplies: the Defense Logistics Agency.
None of this would be pursued without oversight. The legislation calls for weekly reports to be delivered to Congress on the status of equipment and supplies distribution, available resources, and production. Domestic manufacturing needs related to vaccination and other supplies would need to be reported. The new Defense Logistics Agency director would also be required to create and maintain an online system for affected states and local governments to request items.
“There has been spectacular progress made in the effort to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, but we need to make sure our supply chain is ready to deploy a vaccine immediately,” Courtney said.” If we don’t have the support network to help distribute vaccines across the country or to ramp up production of critical PPE and hospital supplies, then we’re not going to be ready.”