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Friday, May 20th, 2022

Sens. Burr, Hickenlooper push Early Countermeasure Discovery Act to improve research detection of pathogens

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U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) this week introduced a bipartisan bill that would increase the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) collaboration efforts surrounding research and development of countermeasures for pathogens with pandemic potential.

“Two years into this pandemic, it’s clear that early stage discovery of effective countermeasures to combat diseases that may cause a pandemic are critical to our nation’s safety,” Burr said. “This is the time to prepare for the next potential threat. This legislation will help strengthen our medical countermeasure enterprise by improving our partnerships with the academic institutions researching and developing innovative products that target these threats.”

The Early Countermeasure Discovery Act seeks to bolster NIH cooperative efforts with academic institutions, research centers, and relevant government agencies alike. The medical agency would be tasked with advancing the discovery and preclinical development of medical products focused on priority virus families and other pathogens deemed of concern and danger. In a specific case, the legislation would also strengthen coordination of countermeasure research between the NIH and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

“COVID-19 won’t be the last pandemic, but we can’t be caught off-guard again,” Hickenlooper said. “Pandemic preparedness is possible, affordable, and irresponsible to ignore.”

This effort is an extension of a larger effort, announced in April 2021 by Burr and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), that they were developing legislation to address various aspects of the federal COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.