New White House Pandemic Preparedness Plan: Something for Everyone
On Friday, September 3, 2021, the White House released its much-anticipated pandemic preparedness plan. This detailed 27-page document lays out a 10-year vision that will centralize efforts currently spread across a myriad of agencies, into a ‘Mission Control’ which will act as a unified program management unit. This much needed change would allow for broad authority to implement and update plans with milestones, assess and report on progress, shift funding between agencies as needed, coordinate between the public and private sectors, and conduct exercises to test our preparedness.
The plan is organized across five pillars (or broad goals), transforming the US capabilities to respond rapidly and effectively to any future pandemic or high consequence threats.
I. Transforming our Medical Defenses
This pillar seeks $41B over the next 7 to 10 years to enable the country to have enhanced capabilities specific to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. The broad goals are to enable the design, testing, and review of future vaccines by 100 days after a pandemic threat appears and to produce enough vaccine for the entire U.S. by 130 days. For therapeutics, the goals are more ambiguous. The goal is to have a range of therapeutics suitable for any virus family, available before a pandemic. The goals for testing include the development of simple, inexpensive, high-performance tests at large scale to be available within weeks of a future pandemic. These tests will be useful for both small molecule and biologic therapeutics.
II. Ensuring Situational Awareness
This pillar seeks $5.4B over the next 7 to 10 years to enable the country to rapidly detect new viral outbreaks and provide real-time monitoring. Specific goals include the inclusion of viral threat detection in routine genetic sampling of patients with unexplained fevers or respiratory disease. In addition, public health information systems will be created to connect symptoms and other relevant public health information to monitor existing viral outbreaks for spread and evolution.
III. Strengthening Public Health Systems
This pillar seeks $9.3B over the same time period to modernize infrastructure to prevent and contain biological threats, specifically by making investments in public laboratories. It also provides funding for international pandemic preparedness and infrastructure to ensure we are able to coordinate a global response to the next threat.
IV. Build Core Capabilities
This pillar seeks $8.8B over the next 7 to 10 years to enable the country to have the necessary supplies and supply chains to deal with future pandemics. Investments to PPE, stockpiles, supply chains, and regulatory capacity will be made. Currently almost all the PPE used in the US originates from Asia, creating supply chain vulnerabilities.
V. Manage the Mission
This pillar seeks $.8B over the next 7 to 10 years to establish the critical mission control function mentioned at the beginning of this article.
The plan is a critical first step in addressing the needs of the country and the lessons learned from the current pandemic. Opportunities abound for the following:
· Biopharmaceutical companies focused on discovering, developing, and commercializing vaccines and therapeutics.
· Diagnostic healthcare manufacturers developing diagnostic solutions.
· Manufacturers of PPE and other critical supply chain vendors.
It is interesting that the Biden plan refers to the Apollo space program as a benchmark for Mission Control. There are several lessons that can be learned from that program. The commitment to landing someone on the moon and returning them safely to Earth was made by a visionary president. Many aspects of the program exceeded budgets and schedules, but the goal was achieved. Mistakes were made, including some that cost the lives of three astronauts, but we remained committed to the mission.
This program will undoubtedly face budget overruns, schedule slips, and mistakes in execution, but bold ideas and risks come with big rewards. As with the Apollo program, we need to make a long-term commitment to ensure that new emerging infectious diseases are not allowed to turn into raging new pandemics.
About EverGlade Consulting
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