The White House on Friday announced a plan costing over $65 billion to handle future pandemics, with a report from the Biden administration saying that the United States is “not adequately prepared” for future biological threats.
“We need better capabilities also because there is a reasonable likelihood that another serious pandemic that could be worse than COVID-19 will occur soon, possibly even within the next decade,” Eric Lander, the president’s science adviser, said at a teleconference on Friday.
“The next pandemic will very likely be substantially different than COVID-19. So, we must be prepared to deal with any type of viral threat,” he added.
Lander, who is also the director of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), shared the administration’s new plan (pdf) titled, “American Pandemic Preparedness: Transforming our Capabilities,” to protect the country against biological and pandemic threats.
The cost of the plan is $65.3 billion over seven to 10 years.
“It’s vital that we start with an initial outlay of $15 to $20 billion to jumpstart these efforts,” Lander said. “Accordingly, we’re proposing that the current budget reconciliation provides at least $15 billion towards this goal.”
The plan calls for a centralized “Mission Control” office that acts as a “single, unified program management unit” to oversee the plan. The office is intended to draw on expertise from multiple federal agencies at the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as other departments such as Defense, Energy, and Veterans’ Affairs.
Discussions continue about what federal entity should house Mission Control, Lander said.
According to the Biden administration’s 27-page plan, the investments include those in “critical scientific goal areas,” including “vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and early warning—as well as associated investments in strengthening disease surveillance, health systems, surge capacity, personal protective equipment (PPE) innovation, biosafety and biosecurity, regulatory capacity, and global pandemic preparedness.”
The bulk of the administration’s plan includes investing some $24.2 billion to have the United States be prepared to “rapidly make effective vaccines against any virus family.” This effort would include vaccine design and testing, development, and distribution.
Some $11.8 billion would be invested to develop therapeutics, and another $5 billion to develop diagnostic tests for large scale use in potential future pandemic response.
Beth Cameron, the senior director for Global Health Security and Biodefense, said she and her office will cooperate to implement the plan.
“We continue to take stock of our full range of biodefense, pandemic readiness, and global health security needs, including capabilities, policies, and practices that we need to update and refresh, building on our lessons from COVID-19 and other outbreaks,” she said in the teleconference on Friday.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than than 640,000 people have died in America related to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
Lander said that the pandemic has “exposed fundamental issues with America’s public heath that go far beyond pandemic preparedness.”
“The issues include the need to increase overall public health funding, strengthen the public health workforce, eliminate barriers to access, improve data systems, address disparities, improve communications, and improve coordination across federal, state, local, and Tribal authorities,” he said.
The CCP virus pandemic continues to spread across the globe. The United States on Sept. 3 has a 7-day average of 153,246 new cases and 1,047 deaths daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.