By David Beier and Sri Devabhaktuni
President Biden is taking bold action with his new set of sweeping vaccine measures. While we await more detail on his $65B spending plan, it’s already clear that more work will be needed in the weeks ahead to fight COVID.
Military history teaches us that no battle plan fully survives engagement with the enemy. In contrast to his predecessor, it is refreshing to watch a leader roll out a plan and then go execute it to the best of his ability.
The Biden effort is quite good, albeit a work in progress in some respects. High level attention to diversity, health equity and assuring access to care is as vital as the latest biological discoveries. We await with hope further detail on how those principles and values will be brought to life in distressed communities across the nation.
The three-legged stool of renewed, innovative focus and funding for vaccines, treatments and diagnostics offers a more stable and sustainable health care delivery platform. I particularly applaud the explicit reference to the urgent need for point-of-care diagnostics. Since 2017, I have been pressing for easy, free access to customer friendly point of care tests, including inexpensive antigen tests for schools and large scale events. Finally, the US government appears all in on that structure by invoking the Defense Production Act to produce these tests and distributing them at cost through major retailers.
By putting vaccines first, there is hope the FDA will continue to act expeditiously on boosters, vaccines for school-age children, and a global plan on funding, supply and distribution.
We should also the focus on prevention measures like better masks and air filtration systems. Viral transmission as we have seen with COVID is often airborne. We must do a better job of detecting and preventing harmful exposure to aerosolized viruses. Schoolchildren nationwide should sit in classrooms protected by HEPA filters just like all students in Chicago, Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco soon will. We need a national plan on this issue just like Germany, Australia and other nations.
We could act today to provide essential workers a better-fitting, effective mask made here in the United States. This requires more will and execution than planning. US firms are begging for government approvals and solid contracts. The…