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White House Seeks $65 Billion to Prepare for Future Pandemics

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“I am very concerned that if we don’t commit the resources now, it will only get harder, and less likely, in the years ahead,” Mr. Daschle wrote in an email. “Now is the time to apply lessons learned.”

Some Democrats have repeatedly called for the initial $30 billion to be included in the budget package. Among them are Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington and the chairwoman of the Senate health committee, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts. Ms. Warren and six of her Democratic colleagues recently wrote to the House and Senate leaders of both parties, calling on them to include $30 billion in the budget package “to prevent and prepare for future pandemics.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic has made clear that underinvesting in our public health infrastructure, our biomedical research pipeline and our medical supply chain has disastrous consequences,” the senators wrote.

Committees are still negotiating the details of the budget package, and several people familiar with the plan said the White House announcement on Friday might be an effort to press leaders on Capitol Hill — especially Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader — to get behind the administration’s full $65.3 billion plan and to commit to at least $15 billion in the budget measure.

Mr. Schumer has so far been noncommittal. “I’ve been working and I’ll keep working to make the investments needed to ensure we are fully prepared for future pandemics,” he wrote last month on Twitter.

Dr. Lander was joined on Friday by Elizabeth Cameron, the senior director for global health security and biodefense on the National Security Council — a job she also held in the Obama White House, where she drafted a preparedness document known as the pandemic playbook. She said the Biden plan “very much draws on those efforts,” as well as “on lessons from this pandemic.”

According to documents released by the White House, the plan has five central goals: improving and expanding the nation’s arsenal of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics; improving surveillance of infectious disease threats; strengthening the public health system, with a “particular focus on reducing inequities”; building up the supply chain and the stockpile for personal protective gear and other items; and “managing the mission,” by creating a new Mission Control office — a task Dr. Lander likened to the Apollo missions to send astronauts to the moon in the 1960s.

“If you’re getting to the moon, and you have a great booster rocket but you haven’t got a capsule capable of landing or computers capable of directing, it’s not going to work,” he said.




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