The Biden Administration has announced a US$65 billion plan to prepare for the next pandemic. “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. And the next pandemic will very likely be substantially different than COVID-19,” White House science advisor Eric Lander told a press conference.
The funds are to be spend over the next 7 to 10 years on improving vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics, creating early warning systems, strengthening public health systems, stockpiling equipment and strengthening supply chains. It will be, said Dr Lander, a new Apollo mission for the nation.
And like those kinds of efforts, it is likely to yield benefits far beyond the initial mission — in this case, advances in human health and providing tools that can help overcome health inequities and ensure equitable access to innovative products for all Americans.
According to a report in Stat, the White House plan also includes measures to ensure that R&D with dangerous biological agents is done safely – “a potential nod to the unproven theory that Covid-19 originated from “gain-of-function” research performed in a Chinese laboratory, a long-running controversy in U.S. and global politics.”
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge
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