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Center for Health Security submits recommendations to House of Representatives for Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) reauthorization

Center News


March 20, 2023 – The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security recently provided feedback and suggestions in response to a Request for Information (RFI) in preparation for the upcoming Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) reauthorization due by September 30, 2023. House Energy and Commerce Committee members Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) released the RFI last month.

PAHPA is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that was first signed into law in 2006 and the next round of reauthorization is rapidly approaching. PAHPA is now widely considered a “must pass” bill that bolsters the nation’s medical and public health preparedness and response capabilities against deliberate, accidental, and natural biological threats as well as other crises. Previous iterations of PAHPA have authorized the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and provided new authorities for a variety of programs.

The Center for Health Security’s recommendations consist of 5 categories of policy recommendations: (1) establishing a ‘Disease X’ Medical Countermeasures Program at BARDA; (2) supporting innovative next-generation reusable respirators for the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS); (3) requiring mandatory screening of gene synthesis orders and customers; (4) implementing a National Diagnostics Action Plan; and (5) improving US bioattribution capabilities.

  1. ‘Disease X’ Medical Countermeasures (MCM) Program: Congress should require BARDA to establish a ‘Disease X’ MCM program to protect against unknown viral threats.
  2. Next-generation reusable respirators: Congress should require ASPR to create target product profiles (TPPs) for next-generation reusable respirators and a process of recurring competitive bidding for products meeting increasingly stringent TPPs.
  3. Gene synthesis screening: Congress should require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to prescribe a regulation requiring gene synthesis providers and manufacturers to screen all customers and incoming orders of gene sequences and to require all purchasers of gene sequences to order only from providers and manufacturers who perform such screening.
  4. National Diagnostics Action Plan: Congress should implement a National Diagnostics Action Plan (preprint here).
  5. Bioattribution: Congress should task the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) with coordinating federal bioattribution efforts across and outside of government, as well as with establishing a working group to maximize existing databases and data resources for bioattribution purposes. Congress should also authorize funding for the improvement of current, or the development of new, bioattribution technologies.

In taking these actions, Congress can ensure that critical gaps in national pandemic prevention and preparedness are filled and that our health, economic, and national security are hardened.

Read the Center's full RFI response.