By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Sens. Patty Murray and Richard Burr on Tuesday proposed a bipartisan bill that would bolster the US’ pandemic preparedness and probe the origins of Covid-19.
The PREVENT Pandemics Act would “examine what has worked, and what has not, during the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and incorporates ideas from multiple members on both sides of the aisle,” according to a news release from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee.
“After everything our nation has been through these past two years, we owe it to everyone who worked so hard to get us through this crisis to take every step we can to make sure we are never in this situation again, and that’s what this bill will help us get done,” Murray, a Democrat from Washington state who chairs the committee, said in a statement.
That message was echoed by Burr, the ranking Republican on the panel, who said the US “must reflect on the lessons learned from the last two years and determine where we were successful, where we failed, and what we did not anticipate so we are better prepared for the next threat we face.”
“This discussion draft starts that conversation,” the North Carolina senator said.
Among the proposals in the bill is the creation of a task force to probe the US’ Covid-19 response and “examine the initial emergence” of the virus. The legislation would also seek to strengthen supply chain stockpiles of medical products, require Senate confirmation for the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and improve public health communication to better address misinformation.
Covid-19 has killed at least 871,269 people and infected about 72 million in the United States since January 2020, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In September, the White House released a multibillion-dollar plan for improving preparedness for pandemics or other biological threats, comparing it to the ambitious Apollo moon shot program of the 1960s and 1970s.
“We need better capabilities, also, because there is a reasonable likelihood that another serious pandemic that could be worse than Covid-19 will occur soon, possibly even within the next decade,” Eric Lander, director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, told reporters at the time.
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CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.