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Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Calls for Funding for New Initiatives to Rapidly Develop Medical Countermeasures for Novel Infectious Diseases in Months, Not Years

Center News


April 30, 2020 – Today’s COVID-19 pandemic is an undeniable example of an increasing global trend of deadly infectious disease outbreaks. More than 200,000 people are dead, communities are shut down, and huge economic losses are occurring around the world. The profound effects of this pandemic must galvanize the US government to do everything in its power to prevent this from happening again. With nearly 200 epidemics occurring each year, the next fast-moving, novel infectious disease pandemic—Virus 201—could be right around the corner.

Our best defense is safe and effective medical countermeasures: drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics. However, the development of these life-saving products still takes years.

The United States must set an ambitious goal of rapidly developing medical countermeasures for novel or unknown threats in months, not years. Innovative technologies, outside-the-box thinking, and game-changing science must be harnessed to meet this goal.

The Center for Health Security calls for a new dedicated Virus 201 strategy and program, and funding must be created to achieve this goal through the HHS Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the DOD Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO). This strategy should not compete with or cannibalize other important medical countermeasure development efforts focused on specific known threats, and it should involve other innovative agencies like DARPA and In-Q-Tel.

Therefore, a new congressional appropriation of $1 billion, divided equally between HHS and DOD, should be provided to enable these agencies to initiate a robust and coordinated strategy to accomplish this goal before the next virus threatens the globe.

Read the full proposal.