BIDEN BUDGET BREAKTHROUGH FOR PANDEMICS
President Requests $4.75 Billion for Global Pandemic Fund; Congress drops COVID Supplemental from negotiations
[Washington DC] President Biden released his fiscal year 2023 budget request this week, with important commitments for public health, and an investment in a global fund for pandemic prevention. The Administration requested $4.75 billion over five years for a multilateral pandemic prevention fund—including $1,825 billion for FY23, and a request to move most funds for global health security out of the "discretionary" the budget and on to a "mandatory" budget line of its own, less vulnerable to the cycle of pandemic panic and neglect. R2H Action activist welcomed this ambitious leap above the widely criticized $250 million sum requested in the previous year.
While activists applaud the President’s budget, Congress continues to fail to pass necessary funds to save lives, even as surging new variants cause shutdowns in China, spread across Europe and become the dominant strain in the United States.
"We've been fighting for this since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. President Biden’s recognition of our call for investment in pandemic prevention is an enormous step forward," says Akshita Siddula, Managing Director of Right to Health Action.
A bipartisan team led by Senators Romney and Schumer have failed to negotiate an agreement to pass an urgently needed emergency supplemental for COVID-19. While this politically charged debate occurs, the federal government has run out of money for current needs, and will not have the resources needed to deal with the pending BA.2 surge.
There are not enough additional boosters or variant specific vaccines for everyone. Free testing, treatment, and vaccinations will no longer be covered by the federal government for the uninsured. The supply of life-saving antibody treatments will be depleted by May, causing many immunocompromised people to be unable to access these life-saving treatments.
“This pandemic is a policy choice,” said Siddula from R2H Action. “We have the resources and know what to do to stop the variants. Congress must immediately pass an emergency supplemental for COVID, without offsets, that includes the full $17 billion USAID requested to vaccinate the world. Congress must additionally heed the President's important call to move pandemic prevention out of the discretionary funding pot, and show the seriousness we need to stop the pandemics of the future."
Additionally, activists applaud that the President's Budget Request also includes important increases for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, as well as new bilateral funds for prevention of zoonotic spillover, global health security, and funds to invest in global health systems and health workforce.