Hickenlooper also introduced an amendment calling for increased federal investment in pandemic preparedness
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper’s Early Countermeasure Discovery Act and Modernizing Biosurveillance Capabilities and Epidemic Forecasting Act both passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
The Early Countermeasure Discovery Act would improve the development of preventative treatment and research into pathogens before they cause the next pandemic.
The Modernizing Biosurveillance Capabilities and Epidemic Forecasting Act would modernize and codify Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) programs that focus on surveillance and forecasting of pandemic-causing viruses.
Video of Hickenlooper’s remarks at the hearing is available HERE.
“This is a puzzle we can solve. We know another pandemic will come. It will cost us, not only in lives lost, but has the potential to devastate our economy,” said Hickenlooper at the hearing. “We can, and should, invest today to understand the pathogens that may hurt us in the future.”
Both bills passed out of committee as part of the PREVENT Pandemics Act, a package of bipartisan bills focused on strengthening the nation’s public health and medical preparedness in the wake of COVID-19.
During the hearing, Hickenlooper also introduced an amendment to significantly increase the federal investment in pandemic preparedness by $15 billion over four years, focused on research into viral pathogens and biosurveillance.
Details on each measure are available below.
Early Countermeasure Discovery Act
The Early Countermeasure Discovery Act, which Hickenlooper introduced with Senator Richard Burr cosponsoring, will direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish and support research programs with academic institutions to advance the discovery and preclinical development of medical tools that target certain virus families and other dangerous pathogens of concern.
This legislation would also improve the medical countermeasure research coordination between the NIH and relevant federal agencies, including the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
Modernizing Biosurveillance Capabilities and Epidemic Forecasting Act
TheModernizing Biosurveillance Capabilities and Epidemic Forecasting Act, which Hickenlooper introduced with Senator Bill Cassidy cosponsoring, would provide $324 million in federal funding to:
- Modernize biosurveillance capabilities and infectious disease data collection and reporting.
- Update Health and Human Services’ strategy and implementation plan to:
- Improve collaboration among relevant federal departments
- Implement lessons learned during the pandemic
- Identify ways to improve disease detection and the speed and accuracy of data reporting
- Strengthen coordination with public health officials, labs, and others
- Codify current activities at CDC related to the analysis, modeling, and forecasting of infectious diseases outbreaks.
Pandemic Preparedness Amendment
The amendment Hickenlooper introduced, cosponsored by Senator Tina Smith, would increase the federal investment in pandemic preparedness by $15 billion over four years and direct the Department of Health and Human Services to use the funds to:
- Bolster epidemic forecasting and biosurveillance efforts;
- Engage in genomic sequencing efforts, research into viral families, and studying pathogens of pandemic concern;
- Take proactive exploratory actions related to vaccine development and deployment; and
- Work with other federal agencies to develop medical countermeasures to fight future pandemics.