Should the government establish a program to develop countermeasures for pathogens with pandemic-causing potential?

Awaiting Vote
Bill Summary

The Disease X Act seeks to create a new program at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The program would work to identify and develop the manufacturing technology needed to create robust countermeasures for viral families with pandemic-causing potential. While BARDA would focus these efforts on already-identified ‘priority’ respiratory viral pathogens, the program would lend effort to all pathogens of pandemic-causing potential. The program would receive $40 million of funding per year for five years and would require products developed using this funding to be substantially manufactured in the United States. Sponsor: Rep. Lori Trahan (Democrat, Massachusetts, District 3)
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Opponents say

•      "In 2019, the Trump administration held a series of training simulations on a hypothetical pandemic caused by a virus that predicted, with remarkable accuracy, many of the problems and shortfalls currently plaguing the US' response to the novel coronavirus outbreak. [...] "Currently, there are insufficient funding sources designated for the federal government to use in response to a severe influenza pandemic," the report found. The report of the simulation recounted that "exercise participants lacked clarity on federal interagency partners' roles and responsibilities during an influenza pandemic response" [...] HHS believed that federal government stakeholders at all levels should be prepared for a similar pandemic. As the coronavirus quickly spread across the world [...] Trump himself and other administration figures have publicly given contradictory information about the severity of the virus itself, the availability of coronavirus testing, and the supply of crucial equipment. In a Thursday press briefing led by the president and members of his coronavirus task force, Trump maintained that the administration was prepared all along [...]. "We were very prepared. The only thing we weren't prepared for was the media. The media has not treated it fairly," Trump said in response to a question about why the US wasn't more prepared to quickly test more patients and coordinate a more cohesive response. " Source: Business Insider, Regarding Former President Donald Trump (Republican)

•      "The way they weaponized these COVID vaxes was a massive incursion into our freedoms. They wanted to deny people the right to put food on their table if they didn’t bend the knee and get a COVID shot that they may not have wanted and that many of them did not need. We can never allow ‘Warp Speed’[The operation to expedite domestic vaccination distribution]  to trump informed consent in this country ever again" Source: Gov. Ron DeSantis (Republican, Florida)

Proponents say

•      "It’s been over three years since the COVID-19 pandemic began wreaking havoc on our nation, and yet we still have no sustained funding, program, or strategy dedicated to accelerating the development of countermeasures for unidentified infectious diseases. It’s imperative that we not only learn the lessons from the mistakes made leading up to and during the pandemic, but also take action to ensure we’re never caught flat-footed in our response to a future viral threat. With infectious disease outbreaks occurring at concerningly rapid rates, it’s incumbent on Congress to act swiftly and responsibly. That’s why I’m partnering with Congressman Burgess, Congressman Crenshaw, and Congresswoman Lee to introduce the bipartisan Disease X Act, and I look forward to working with them and our colleagues on the Health Subcommittee to get this legislation passed into law." Source: Rep. Lori Trahan (Democrat, Massachusetts, District 3)

•      "The Disease X Act of 2023 is a critical piece of legislation that aims to ensure our country is prepared to respond to emerging diseases with the potential to cause global pandemics. Viral pathogens with pandemic potential can dramatically affect the United States’s population, military readiness, and economic and national security. Whether a future pandemic threat is naturally occurring, accidentally released, or deliberately caused, our best defense will be safe and effective medical countermeasures including therapies, vaccines, and diagnostics. The development of such countermeasures aids in pandemic response preparedness and serves as a deterrent against the development of biological weapons by adversaries and bad actors. The bipartisan introduction of this bill highlights the urgent need to accelerate the development of medical countermeasures for previously unidentified infectious disease threats, referred to as Disease X." Source: Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security