Biden administration releases plan for combating next pandemic

The Biden administration has released its plan for combating the next pandemic, warning that a future pandemic could be even worse than COVID-19

In a call with reporters, White House officials described an Apollo-like mission to coordinate all aspects of pandemic response in a centralized command. The administration’s plan, which also addresses other biological threats, has several components: creating medical defenses (such as rapid production of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics); establishing early warning systems and real-time monitoring; modernizing public health infrastructure at home and abroad; improving supply chains, personal protective equipment availability and stockpiles; and establishing a pandemic mission control office.

The plan would cost $65 billion over the next seven to 10 years, with $15 billion coming from the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill being considered on Capitol Hill. More funding would be needed for the additional $50 billion. 

The pandemic preparedness plan warns that “there will be an increasing frequency of natural — and possibly human-made — biological threats in the years ahead.” 

“As devastating as the COVID-19 pandemic is, there is a reasonable likelihood that another serious pandemic that may be worse than COVID-19 will occur soon — possibly within the next decade,” the report says. “Unless we make transformative investments in pandemic preparedness now, we will not be meaningfully prepared.” 

The report draws on the Obama-era pandemic preparedness plan. Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Eric Lander said the unified office will coordinate all aspects of the pandemic response — vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, grants, personal protective equipment, modeling and more. Lander said it hasn’t yet been decided from which department “mission control” would work. 

“If you’ve got a great booster rocket but haven’t got a capsule capable of landing … it’s not going to work,” Lander said. 

— CBS News’ Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.