WASHINGTON, July 20 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, on Thursday issued the following statement after the committee favorably reported out the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Response Act:
“Over 1 million Americans died from COVID. In fact, we lost more Americans as a result of COVID than we did in World War II. In my view, virtually every public health official in America tried their best, but it would be an understatement to say that we were tragically unprepared to respond to this crisis.
“Common sense dictates that we have got to do a much better job to either prevent or be much better prepared for the next pandemic. That is a major part of what this legislation does. This legislation will help us make sure that we have a capable workforce in place – not just nurses and doctors, but also public health workers, our ‘disease detectives’ – who can figure out where an outbreak is happening and set up vaccination clinics among many other things. This legislation will help make sure that we have accurate public health data to know who is getting sick. This legislation will help make sure that we have enough medical supplies for our health care workers.
“The legislation that we passed today will not only help us in our efforts to prepare and respond to the next pandemic, it will also help us respond to natural disasters as well as chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. We will improve data collection for infectious diseases and monitor new pathogens through wastewater surveillance. Under this bill, we will require drug manufacturers to report more information to the FDA about drug shortages so that the federal government can take action more quickly to respond to these shortages. This legislation will require drug manufacturers to notify FDA if there is an increase in demand that they will not be able to meet – like we saw with children’s Tylenol this winter. This legislation also directs HHS to work with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to study prizes – a transformative new way of paying for the development of prescription drugs. This study will take a serious look at how we can create new treatments and cures, without the burdens of monopolies and high prices.
“I want to thank Sen. Casey and Sen. Romney, as well as Ranking Member Cassidy, for working closely together to move this legislation forward.”