PATH applauds Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) on the introduction of the International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response Act of 2021. This legislation takes critical steps to end the current global COVID-19 crisis, while strengthening the US government’s response to global pandemic preparedness for future health emergencies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for a comprehensive and coordinated US approach to respond to global health threats. This legislation establishes a framework to strengthen US government coordination and clarify agency roles, while establishing a permanent official accountable for coordination and execution of US global health security response efforts.
In addition to calling for a detailed strategy to ensure global vaccine distribution, this legislation authorizes US contribution to the Coalition for Vaccine Preparedness Initiatives (CEPI) and calls for the immediate contribution of US$300 million, via funding provided from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. An immediate investment in CEPI is a key component to increase global production of COVID-19 vaccines to the world, develop and adapt vaccines to address the variants, and get ahead of the next emerging threat. This investment cannot wait.
As the world has seen with COVID-19, pandemics put great strains on health systems, often pushing them to their breaking point. Too often, US foreign assistance has taken a siloed approach to addressing global health. We are pleased to see this legislation prioritize the critical role of health systems by establishing a pilot program tasked with developing an integrated approach toward system strengthening to serve as a model to scale up coordination of health system strengthening in the future.
Finally, we applaud the creation of a multilateral financing mechanism for global health security and pandemic prevention and preparedness. This financing mechanism can play a catalytic role in incentivizing public and private investments for global health security and is critical for supporting low-and middle-income countries to respond to and combat future threats. We call on appropriators to ensure adequate funding for this important mechanism.
We urge the Senate to move quickly in taking up this important legislation and thank Senators Menendez and Risch for their leadership.