Pandemic prevention is focus of Hickenlooper, Burr bill

By: - January 13, 2022 2:34 pm

Sen. John Hickenlooper speaks during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Oct. 5, 2021. (Screenshot from Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee)

Sens. John Hickenlooper and Richard Burr, of North Carolina, introduced a bipartisan act to develop preventative medical countermeasures for pathogens that have pandemic potential before they cause a pandemic.

“COVID-19 won’t be the last pandemic, but we can’t be caught off-guard again,” Hickenlooper, a Colorado Democrat, said in a statement Wednesday. “Pandemic preparedness is possible, affordable, and irresponsible to ignore.”


The Early Countermeasure Discovery Act would direct the National Institutes of Health to establish research programs with academic institutions to advance the discovery and development of medical tools that target certain virus families, according to the statement. 

The National Institutes of Health is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is the largest biomedical research agency in the world. 

“Two years into this pandemic, it’s clear that early stage discovery of effective countermeasures to combat diseases that may cause a pandemic are critical to our nation’s safety,” Burr, a Republican, said in a statement Wednesday. “This is the time to prepare for the next potential threat.” 

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is currently writing a bipartisan pandemic preparedness bill in order to better prepare for future pandemics, which will include the Early Countermeasure Discovery Act, according to Burr’s statement.

Burr is the ranking member of the HELP Senate Committee and Hickenlooper is the chairman of the HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety.


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