- President Joe Biden says the US must get funding to prepare for the next pandemic.
- The White House has proposed to allocate $82 billion to planning for future pandemics.
- Some researchers predict a one in two chance of another pandemic in the next 25 years.
President Joe Biden warned on Tuesday that the US will eventually face a “second pandemic” and that the country must start preparing for it.
“We need more money,” he said at a White House news conference when asked whether Congress would fund COVID-19 vaccines for infants and toddlers. The president said the financing of vaccine stocks would last until the end of the year.
“But we don’t just need more money for vaccines for children. Ultimately, we need more money to plan for the second pandemic,” he said.
“A new pandemic is coming. We have to think ahead,” Biden added.
Bloomberg reported last week, citing a senior official, that the Biden administration would soon announce a revamped “biodefense strategy” to improve America’s pandemic response.
Biden’s proposed 2023 budget suggests allocating approximately $82 billion over five years to prepare for future biological threats.
One of its main goals is to create an environment in which the US can create effective vaccines and treatments for a pathogen within 100 days of discovery. The money would also go towards boosting healthcare infrastructure and expanding research into potential threats.
While the world has often gone through long periods without a pandemic on the scale of COVID-19, researchers say the number of new outbreaks of disease among humans has risen rapidly over the past 50 years.
According to Duke’s Global Health Institute, a 2021 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicts that the likelihood of such outbreaks will triple in the coming decades.
And according to the Center for Global Development, the belief that COVID-19 will be a “once in a lifetime” pandemic is probably untrue. Instead, researchers at the think tank have predicted a one in two chance that another pandemic as deadly as Covid will break out in the next 25 years.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has also urged the world to assemble a global team of scientists who can monitor outbreaks and help countries improve their epidemic response, saying the world has “got lucky” with the relatively low death rate from COVID-19.
Two other coronaviruses, 2002 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-1) and 2012 Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) spread more slowly than COVID-19, but cause much more severe symptoms and have higher death rates.
“I have to say, given the toll of this pandemic, 20 million deaths worldwide, a million in the US, and it could have been a lot more deadly. We were just lucky that the death rate was about 0.2% on a case-by-case basis,” Gates said earlier this month.