President Donald J. Trump this week signed the Pandemics and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act, or PAHPAI, into law.
The bill reauthorizes the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) under the Public Health Service Act and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which experts said will strengthen the country’s preparedness against a variety of global disease threats. Congress passed PAHPAI earlier this month.
“We applaud the administration and Congress for recognizing that protecting our nation’s health requires deploying BARDA’s unique capabilities to combat all hazards — not only chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, but naturally occurring health threats as well,” Jamie Bay Nishi, director of the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), said in a statement.
BARDA still requires “strong investments” from Congress “so the agency can deliver innovations against the full spectrum of health threats we face,” she said.
Currently, BARDA receives money through a “crisis approach,” wherein the agency’s work is funded “piecemeal” through emergency appropriations that were initially allocated for Zika and Ebola projects. That funding is nearly depleted, according to the statement.
For the House of Representatives’ proposed fiscal year 2020 appropriation, BARDA is expected to receive a modest increase in funds.
“But a larger investment is needed for BARDA to fully and equitably fund the breadth of disease threats within its mandate and capitalize on recent scientific advances to generate innovations that could dramatically boost our capacity to neutralize potentially catastrophic outbreaks,” she said. “Now, Congress must match this authorization with strong investments in BARDA so the agency can deliver innovations against the full spectrum of health threats we face.”
Disclosure: Nishi is the director of the GHTC.