Earlier this yr, Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and I discovered ourselves in a novel place to assist the nation reply to COVID-19 pandemic. In my function because the Home Vitality and Commerce Committee Republican chief and Rep. Guthrie’s function as Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican chief, we—together with Well being Subcommittee Republican Chief Dr. Michael Burgess (R-Texas)—assist oversee federal departments and businesses like HHS, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, and the Meals and Drug Administration.
This spring, we launched the Second Wave Preparedness Mission to supply suggestions to assist higher place the nation within the battle towards COVID-19, particularly as we strategy flu season.
On daily basis counts throughout this pandemic, and the objective of the Second Wave Preparedness Mission has been to review each side of this pandemic and decide what’s wanted to avoid wasting lives, sources and time. Creating coverage suggestions in the course of a pandemic in some methods felt like we have been constructing the airplane as we have been flying it, however my committee has an extended, bipartisan custom of working to raised put together the nation for emergencies. Final yr, we despatched the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act to President Donald Trump for his signature, which reauthorized vital public well being preparedness and response applications.
All through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration has labored across the clock to harness private and non-private sector sources. Via Operation Warp Velocity—a whole-of-government effort mixed with the facility of personal sector innovation to develop after which ship hundreds of thousands of doses of a vaccine to People—we’re seeing report progress being made towards a vaccine.
Via committee oversight, I’ve had the chance to not solely develop suggestions to assist streamline the response effort, but additionally to talk to many public well being consultants on the entrance strains of this pandemic. I’ve left these conversations feeling assured that, regardless of the breakneck velocity at which we’re transferring, the security and efficacy of vaccines and therapeutics is not going to be compromised.
In the meantime, there are classes discovered and alternatives for efficiencies, which is why we made suggestions by the Second Wave Preparedness Mission. These suggestions complement the administration’s ongoing efforts to defeat COVID-19, and I’m happy a few of them have already been applied.
The three pillars of this challenge study testing and surveillance; vaccine and therapeutics; and the nation’s healthcare provide chain. With testing, for example, we examined the sorts of testing out there, how they need to be used and what kinds of assessments we nonetheless have to develop, anticipated provide shortages, and higher goal testing and surveillance efforts. This might be particularly vital as we head into flu season.
For the subsequent pillar on vaccine and therapeutic improvement, we sought to make suggestions to assist reply questions on how greatest to distribute a vaccine as soon as the FDA approves one, and now we have intently examined the standing of the various completely different therapeutics underneath improvement.
The third pillar is on healthcare provide chain preparedness. Via this pandemic, we’ve discovered precisely what occurs after we closely depend on different international locations for our drug and medical provide chains. China hid simply how critical the virus is with a view to hoard provides for its inhabitants, and greater than 20 international locations restricted and even banned drug and medical provide exports. A safe provide chain with home manufacturing is the one method to make sure we will adequately cope with this and be ready for future public well being emergencies.
At first of the pandemic, I don’t suppose any of us might have predicted the human struggling this virus would trigger at dwelling and all over the world. It’s my hope we will work collectively, using these suggestions, to beat the various challenges brought on by this pandemic and are available again stronger and extra ready for the longer term.
The 116th Congress: Policymaking Amid the Pandemic