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Friday, December 3rd, 2021

Johns Hopkins and other stakeholders press Congress to support $16 billion funding level for pandemic preparedness

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In a letter dispatched to Congress this week, 24 stakeholder organizations urged Congressional leaders to back the $16 billion funding level for pandemic preparedness advanced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this year.

That funding was attached as part of the Build Back Better Act, and the stakeholders — which include organizations such as the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Nuclear Threat Initiative and Trinity Health — want to see any version that comes out of the Senate also include at least $16 billion for pandemic preparedness.

“One in 500 Americans have died from COVID-19. And it’s estimated that the country has incurred $16 trillion in economic losses,” the stakeholders wrote. “As COVID-19 has shown, we must build our pandemic defenses, such as a reliable ability to rapidly produce and distribute effective diagnostic tests, vaccines, and therapeutics for both known and unknown viral threats; technologies that will provide early warning systems and real-time monitoring so we can detect and track the course of outbreaks with increased speed and fidelity; a sufficient and dependable supply of effective masks and medical supplies; cost-effective methods for improving indoor air quality to minimize unnecessary disruptions of school, religious services, and workplaces; and a stronger public health infrastructure to deliver services to the American people and protect all of us, including vulnerable Americans, from health threats.”

By pointing to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, these organizations noted that resources are needed to meaningfully reduce the threat of future pandemics. Enough money, they believe, could potentially even eliminate their threat entirely — and they called on the specter of American ingenuity as a force to achieve it. At the least, the funds could be utilized to provide national tools and technologies, jobs and breakthroughs that could save lives, by the proponents’ argument.

“We must do everything in our power to prevent a global pandemic like COVID-19, or worse, from happening again,” the stakeholders wrote.