Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released a white paper on June 9 and called for public comment on five recommended areas for near-term congressional action to learn from the COVID-19 response and better prepare for future pandemics.
“In the midst of responding to COVID-19, the United States Congress should take stock now of what parts of the local, state, and federal response worked, what could work better and how, and be prepared to pass legislation this year to better prepare for the next pandemic, which will surely come,” the white paper, “Preparing for the Next Pandemic,” notes in the executive summary.
Sen. Alexander outlined five main recommendations to improve the country’s preparation for future pandemics:
- Accelerating research and development of tests, treatments, and vaccines.
- Enhancing disease surveillance.
- Addressing federal and state stockpiles, distribution, and surge capacity.
- Improving state and local public health capabilities.
- Improving coordination of federal agencies.
“Even with an event as significant as COVID-19, memories fade and attention moves quickly to the next crisis. That makes it imperative that Congress act on needed changes this year in order to better prepare for the next pandemic,” Sen. Alexander said in a press statement.
Comments are due by 5 p.m. on June 26 to PandemicPreparedness@help.senate.gov.