The Joe Biden administration looks to the future and creates a special task force to board future variants of Covid-19 and other pandemic-related threats so that the United States is ready in case new versions of the virus emerge.
According to US media reports, this true «task force» (task force) of pandemic innovation will focus on the development of vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests.
The emergence of the new group coincides with the Omicron strain, which is creating many problems for the American health system, putting it under pressure again, with many states currently with intensive care units with an occupancy of 85%.
Long lines to get coronavirus home tests in the United States. Photo: EFE
The group will be formed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)
Health officials warned that new variants may appear and, once again, changing the understanding and threat of the virus, as has happened with the strain initially detected in Africa.
Although scientific studies suggest that Omicron causes milder infections Hospitals have seen beds fill with an unprecedented influx of patients than previous strains.
In addition, rapid tests have been scarce and companies have been complicated in their production lines by infected employees who have had to isolate themselves.
Unlike the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the new group will not focus on day-to-day pandemic response or the Ómicron variant, or issues such as the distribution of vaccines, tests and therapeutic treatments.
Instead, you will work on preparation projects that could be used to manage waves of new variants that could emerge in six months to two years, as well as other threats.
By developing and exercising new capabilities, the United States will bolster its long-term biodefenses, according to experts.
The task force, led by science adviser to President Biden and director of the OSTP, Eric Lander, and Dawn O’Connell, deputy secretary for preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services, met for the first time last Tuesday, sources revealed. of the government.
Its mission is based on a 10-year proposal with $65.3 billion budget, raised by the OSTP and the National Security Council to combat future pandemic threats.
The task force’s work «complements the current Covid response by focusing on potential new strains that could emerge in the next 24 months, building on the wide range of developments and lessons since the start of the pandemic,» the OSTP said in a statement. release.
Representatives from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, as well as medical and scientific leaders, attended the inaugural virtual meeting, which will continue to be held weekly.
Those present included officials from the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of the Surgeon General and the Department of Defense.
The new task force could focus on developing diagnostic tools that distinguish between variants to help guide treatment, update vaccines to protect against multiple variants, identify new drug candidates or secure additional manufacturing capacity, according to the people.
Although corporate executives were not invited to the initial meeting, this pandemic «task force» will seek to work collaboratively with health care companies, according to the people.
Cecilia Rouse, president of the Council of Economic Advisers, said the new group will also focus on managing the «endemic phase,» in which the virus circulates seasonally.