Vermont Business Magazine Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Chairman Christopher Coons (D-Del.) Thursday introduced a $21 billion emergency supplemental funding bill to provide the necessary resources to prepare for the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and to address other emerging diseases that pose a significant threat to public health.
Leahy said: “For months, the alarm has been raised that we are insufficiently prepared for the next phase of this pandemic. We lack the necessary resources to support testing, sustain supplies of therapeutics, and procure the next generation of vaccines that will be vital to finally ending this pandemic. Our efforts to stop this disease abroad to protect us here at home are quickly running out of funding, and we are running out of time to act. The need is urgent, and this emergency supplemental funding bill provides the necessary resources to prepare for the current and anticipated surge in cases this fall and winter, save lives, and support our efforts to stamp out this virus here and abroad.”
Murray said: “It is so painfully clear that our nation, and our families, cannot afford for us to fall behind when it comes to fighting this pandemic. We have to make the investments needed to keep us ready, and keep us ahead of the challenges, surges, and variants we know are coming. This emergency funding will do just that by helping us get our communities more tests, treatments, and vaccines to fight this virus—and better ones that are more effective against new variants, easier to use, store, transport, and more. It will also support the global COVID response so our partners across the world can beat this virus abroad and keep it from spreading, mutating, and threatening families here at home. I have been making clear how important this is for months: our communities need this funding now—so let’s get it done.”
Coons said: “Americans may want to be done with this virus, but it is clear that it isn’t done with us as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise once again. Until we get serious about fighting this disease not just here at home, but around the world, the pandemic will continue to destroy lives and livelihoods. This bill represents another crucial step forward in our efforts to fight COVID-19 so we can put this pandemic behind us and ensure we have the tools and resources needed to stop the next one before it starts.”
The bill provides $16 billion in emergency funding through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF), including:
- $9 billion to the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority for advanced research and development, manufacturing, production, purchase, and distribution of medical countermeasures against COVID-19 including vaccines, therapeutics, tests, diagnostics, and medical products and supplies;
- $6.25 billion in flexible funding to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to purchase and distribute vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to ensure a sufficient supply to meet demand if and when a new variant or surge of infections emerges; and
- $750 million for research and clinical trials for vaccines focused on emerging coronavirus strains and to support domestic manufacturing capacity.
The bill also provides $5 billion in emergency funding to support the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For months, scientists, medical professionals, and global health experts have been sounding the alarm that without additional funding the United States will be woefully unprepared for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and potential death this fall and winter. Some projections estimate that as many as 100 million Americans – nearly 1 in 3 – will be infected or re-infected in the coming months.
Current vaccine supplies will only provide doses for 100 million Americans in the fall. The Administration lacks sufficient funding to support the development and purchase of next-generation vaccines, which have the potential to offer broader protection against new and emerging variants and ultimately replace the need to develop new vaccines. Supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments are expected to be exhausted within a month, and testing supplies have dwindled to little more than 300 million tests – far below the anticipated need of 1 billion to meet the demand as children return to school in the fall.
Insufficient vaccination efforts abroad will only allow new variants to emerge and pose new threats to us here at home. The U.S. Agency for International Development, which manages our global response to the COVID pandemic, will soon have no choice but to shut down vaccine delivery operations due to insufficient funding. This would be a disastrous outcome as only 19 percent of people in low-income countries have received a single COVID-19 vaccine dose. Inequities between lower and higher-income countries continue to cost lives and prolong the pandemic by increasing the threat posed by the emergence of new, potentially more dangerous, variants of the virus.
The emergency funding provided in the bill will allow the Administration to procure the necessary tests, treatments and vaccines for the anticipated fall surge; invest in and purchase the next generation of vaccines and treatments; and support a global response to the pandemic that will keep us safer here at home.
You can find Chairman Leahy’s last statement calling for new resources to respond to the pandemic here.
WASHINGTON (Thursday, July 28, 2022) – Leahy