COVID-19 has exacted an unfathomable toll on our nation and the world, causing millions of deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses globally, and highlighting the inter-dependency between our nation’s health security and that of the world. Throughout the pandemic, Americans and people around the world have personally experienced the health, social, and economic impacts caused by infectious diseases. The COVID-19 response has illuminated both longstanding and newly discovered limitations in our local, national, and international health systems and health security capabilities. It has also resulted in an unparalleled, multisectoral, whole-of-society response, which has galvanized breakthrough innovation. The Biden-Harris administration has made great progress in combatting COVID-19 and building better health security to protect against future pandemics and other health emergencies. However, much more is needed to prevent future biological catastrophes. In America and around the world, people want to know: what can we do to stop future pandemics? We must increase and sustain our investments across the U.S. Government to better prevent, detect, and respond to pandemics, and to build a world safe and secure from biological threats.
The FY23 President’s Budget includes a historic $88.2 billion request for mandatory funding, available over five years, across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to prepare for future biological threats in support of objectives within U.S. national and global biodefense and pandemic preparedness strategies and plans. This investment will fund transformative improvements in our capabilities to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging biological catastrophes. If we want to create a world free of pandemics and other biological catastrophes, the time to act is now.
The Budget will:
- Transform our capability to rapidly produce and deliver countermeasures against pandemics and other biological threats. The Budget includes $40 billion for the HHS ASPR to invest in advanced development and manufacturing of countermeasures for high priority threats and viral families, including vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and personal protective equipment (PPE). This funding would support development of novel technologies, including rapidly scalable vaccine production technologies; technologies to simplify the administration of vaccines; effective and broadly-acting therapeutics; next-generation PPE; rapidly scalable, affordable, and effective diagnostics; pathogen-agnostic detection technologies; and tools to suppress pathogen transmission in the built environment, including ventilation, sterilization, and antimicrobial and antiviral surfaces. This funding will also support manufacturing capacity to surge countermeasure production in response to future biological threats, whether from COVID-19 variants or another emergent biological threat. These investments build towards the ambitious goals of developing effective vaccines and therapeutics within 100 days of identifying a biological threat, producing sufficient quantities to vaccinate the United States population within 130 days, and supporting surge production to rapidly meet global needs.
- Strengthen our public health infrastructure and early warning capabilities. The Budget provides $28 billion for the CDC to enhance public health system infrastructure, domestic and global threat surveillance, public health workforce development, public health laboratory capacity, and global health security. These efforts will ensure the nation is prepared to effectively contain and mitigate future biological threats and will enable States, localities, tribal nations, and Territories to mount a rapid and robust response to future outbreaks. These investments will complement discretionary funding to modernize public health data collection and increase capacity for disease early warning forecasting and analyzing future outbreaks, including at the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics. Funding will also promote health equity in pandemic response infrastructure through initiatives to support marginalized and underserved communities through community-based public health services and support state-based and international efforts to control antibiotic resistance.
- Invest in basic research to enable an effective response to novel pandemics and biological threats. The Budget provides $12.1 billion to NIH for research and development of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics against high priority biological threats, including safe and secure laboratory capacity and clinical trial infrastructure. Developing a vaccine against COVID-19 built on twenty years of prior federally funded scientific research on coronaviruses. Accordingly, the Budget supports preclinical and clinical research and development of prototype vaccines and therapeutics against priority viral families. These investments will provide essential foundational knowledge to meet the goal of developing vaccines and therapeutics against novel biological threats within 100 days.
- Modernize and streamline our regulatory infrastructure. The Budget provides $1.6 billion for the FDA to expand and modernize regulatory capacity, information technology, and laboratory infrastructure to support the evaluation of medical countermeasures.
- Advance biosafety and biosecurity in the United States and globally to prevent biological incidents. The Budget provides $1.8 billion within the total $88.2 billion request to enable the CDC and NIH to expand efforts to strengthen biosafety and biosecurity practices domestically and globally. This includes applied research and innovation in biosafety and biosecurity, which will expand capabilities to identify and minimize safety and security risks in the design and development of biotechnology.
- Transform global health security and pandemic preparedness for COVID-19 variants and future biological threats. A biological threat anywhere can turn into a health emergency everywhere. The most effective way to respond to biological threats is to respond to it at its source. The Budget includes $6.5 billion in mandatory funding for the Department of State and USAID to make transformative investments in pandemic and biological threat preparedness globally, which complements ongoing U.S. investments to also strengthen health systems. This includes $4.5 billion in seed funding to establish global, regional, and local capacity through a new financial intermediary fund at the World Bank focused on global health security and pandemic preparedness. This effort will build on U.S. global health security investments and provide a more structured platform to account for and measure international gaps and gains. It will also accelerate U.S. leadership to bring other donors to the table and will provide $500 million over five years to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to support innovating science and technological capabilities to shorten the cycle for development of safe, effective, and affordable vaccines.
These investments will build on and accelerate innovations to prepare for future COVID-19 variants, and ensure the capabilities we are building to combat COVID-19 are sustained for future pandemics.Acknowledging the possibility that future COVID-19 variants could have severe consequences for U.S. health and livelihoods, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, HHS, and the White House COVID-19 team launched the Pandemic Innovation Task Force, which assembled science and technology leaders across the executive branch to accelerate pandemic innovations with the potential to have a major impact on our ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and future biological threats.
Collectively, these activities will build capabilities the nation urgently needs to respond to future pandemics and biological threats from any source, strengthen international systems so that we can detect threats early and respond rapidly, and enable the nation to decisively act on the lessons from COVID-19.