Washington, DC Update

Posted 12 March 2021

ASTMH continues to work with peer organizations to make its views known to Congress and the Biden administration. Letters that ASTMH led or joined include:
  • An ASTMH letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris asking them to support data-driven science and outlining ASTMH’s global and public health priorities.
  • A letter led by the Stakeholder Forum on Antimicrobial Resistance (S-FAR) to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over AMR programs with AMR funding requests for Fiscal Year 2022.
  • A letter led by S-FAR to HHS Acting Secretary Cochran urging him to make AMR a priority for the G7 and recommending a comprehensive, One Health approach to AMR.
  • A CDC Coalition letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittees in support of at least $10 billion in funding for the CDC in Fiscal Year 2022.
Read More:
U.S. Pays WHO Member Dues
Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Authorized
COVAX Vaccine Deliveries Begin for African Countries
President Biden Orders Supply Chain Review
Biden's American Rescue Contains Global Health Funding 
Stimulus Public Health Funding
Ambassador to UN Confirmed, USAID Administrator Nomination Pending
 

U.S. Pays WHO Member Dues
As part of its rejoining WHO, the U.S. at the end of February paid the $200+ million in owed assessments. As WHO is dependent on voluntary funding, this infusion is expected to help the body’s struggling finances.
 
Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Authorized
The FDA officially granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine on February 27. Distribution and administration of the vaccine, the third approved for use in the U.S., has already begun.

COVAX Vaccine Deliveries Begin for African Countries
During the last week of February, the COVAX Facility sent its first vaccine shipments to Ghana. Ghana received 600,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Cote D’Ivoire will be the next country to receive a COVAX shipment.

COVAX expects to be able to ship doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson vaccines soon, and has a deal in place with Novavax once that vaccine receives emergency authorization.

President Biden Orders Supply Chain Review
On February 24, President Biden issued an executive order that calls for a 100-day supply chain review across the federal government in four areas: pharmaceuticals, rare earth minerals, semiconductor chips and large batteries. The order also contains a year-long review of the U.S. public health industrial base. The order is widely seen as a first step toward boosting domestic production of critical supplies.
 
Biden’s American Rescue Contains Global Health Funding
After narrowly securing passage of H.R. 1319 via reconciliation in the Senate, President Biden signed his American Rescue Plan into law on March 11. The law is a sweeping stimulus package totaling almost $1.9 trillion.
 
Just before the stimulus bill went to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote, the House Budget Committee added global health funding previously missing from the bill. The Senate kept these additions. As enacted, the stimulus includes (not exhaustive):
  • $3.995 billion for USAID, of which:
    • $3.09 billion is for disaster relief, recovery and “health activities”
    • An additional $905 million is specifically for global health activities to combat the coronavirus pandemic that “shall include a contribution to a multilateral vaccine development partnership”
      • The partnership is taken to be a reference to CEPI
      • Given that the larger $3.09 billion pot can be used for “health activities,” it appears that USAID could augment the $905 million amount if it so chooses
  • $3.75 billion for the State Department, of which:
    • $3.5 billion is a contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria
    • $250 million is for PEPFAR
  • $750 million for CDC global health activities (this amount is in addition to CDC public health funding outlined below)  
Stimulus Public Health Funding
The stimulus package also contains new public health spending. The measure includes (not exhaustive):
  • $47.8 billion for COVID-19 testing and tracing
  • $9 billion for the CDC, of which
    • $8.5 billion is for vaccine activities
    • $500 million is for data modernization
  • $8.5 billion for rural health
  • $7.66 billion to expand the public health workforce, including at the state, local and territorial levels
  • $7.6 billion for community health centers
  • $6.09 billion for tribal health
  • $6.05 billion for the manufacture and purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics
  • $1.75 billion for genomic sequencing and surveillance
Ambassador to UN Confirmed, USAID Administrator Nomination Pending
On February 23, the Senate confirmed Linda Thomas-Greenfield as Ambassador to the United Nations by a 78-21 vote. The Senate is still considering the nomination of Samantha Power to be USAID Administrator. Power has not yet had a committee hearing.