White House Turns Eye Toward Threat Of Future Pandemics
Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the U.S. will kick off a new global health security fund with a $250 million donation. The effort aims to raise $10 million to prepare for emerging health emergencies. Other administration news reports on covid testing and a suggested use for the U.S. Postal Service.
The New York Times:
Harris Announces $250 Million In Global Funding To Fight Future Pandemics.
While President Biden gathered with heads of state for a Covid-19 summit, Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday announced that the United States will contribute at least $250 million to a new global health security fund that the administration hopes will raise $10 billion to fight future pandemics. Declaring the coronavirus pandemic a “stark warning” for an increasingly interconnected world, Ms. Harris called for international unity to address a lack of funding for pandemic preparedness highlighted by the flaws in the global response to Covid-19. The collective goal of $10 billion would be spent on a range of issues, like disease surveillance, vaccine development and health care worker support, in order to counter future biological threats. (Levin and Peltier, 9/22)
Biden Under Pressure To Expand Rapid COVID-19 Testing
The Biden administration is under pressure to quickly expand rapid coronavirus testing to curb the latest wave of the pandemic. The current system is being strained, and at-home tests are increasingly rare commodities. Manufacturers who cut supply as infections dropped during the spring and summer are now scrambling to ramp up operations as demand spikes. But that shift is likely to take weeks. (Weixel, 9/23)
The Checkup Is In The Mail? Soliciting Letter Carriers To Help Deliver Health Care
Two of America’s toughest problems can be tempered with one solution. The baby boom generation is graying, creating an ever-larger population of older people, many isolated, whose needs the nation is ill equipped to meet or even monitor. Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service has gone $160 billion into debt, in part as digital communications have replaced snail mail. This year it has requested two rate increases for stamps and other services, bringing the price of a first-class stamp to 58 cents. It is running an aggressive TV ad campaign, presumably to build support for Congress to step in with some kind of rescue. (Rosenthal, 9/23)
Pushing For A New Government Agency To Curb Patient Harms
Efforts to form a national patient safety board would shape how medical errors and other patient harms are handled within the nation's hospitals. A coalition made up of stakeholders ranging from Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the Carlion Clinic to the Purchaser Business Group on Health and the National Quality Forum is pitching Congress on a government agency that would operate similarly to the National Transportation Safety Board, but for health providers. The new entity would focus on solutions to health safety problems and preventing deaths and other harm to patients. (Gillespie, 9/22)
In other government news —
Diplomat Overseeing 'Havana Syndrome' Response Is Out After 6 Months
The top State Department official overseeing the response to “Havana Syndrome” is leaving her position after only six months on the job, three officials said. Spratlen is departing this week as the State Department faces growing questions about its response to Havana Syndrome and the care and benefits being provided to suffering employees. In recent days, Spratlen had faced a public call for her resignation, and numerous U.S. diplomats said she had lost the confidence of affected employees. The State Department said Wednesday that Spratlen was leaving now because she had “reached the threshold of hours of labor” allowed under her status as a retiree. (Lederman and Breslauer, 9/22)