03 cdc d3fe9qJDqaI unsplashBenjamin Franklin is famously quoted as saying, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” The United States has long prepared for pandemics, such as the one we are facing with the coronavirus right now, through programs established in the aftermath of the anthrax attacks of the early 2000s. These vital programs give the United States the necessary infrastructure to respond to both natural disease outbreaks and biological and chemical warfare.

I worked on improving these bipartisan programs in 2018 and 2019 with President Donald Trump signing the reauthorization bill into law last June. We made numerous improvements, incorporating lessons learned from the Zika and Ebola outbreaks earlier in the decade. Unfortunately, the coronavirus is a sophisticated virus unlike any the world has seen before.

As we continue to address the coronavirus, I am committed to getting our country the resources we need so that we can reopen and rebuild our economy.

My colleagues and I immediately began assessing the weak links in our defenses and crafting solutions to improve the programs we rely on for pandemic preparedness. Since early March, we have been working with the Trump administration to identify what solutions are necessary to better equip our country to respond to outbreaks like the coronavirus.

That’s why my colleagues and I introduced the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act, a bipartisan package of measures to reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical medical supplies needed to fight COVID-19. We must boost domestic manufacturing so American workers can make those supplies here at home. We also must make much-needed improvements and updates to America’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of personal protective equipment and the Strategic National Stockpile and this legislation will deliver critical investments in our ability to respond to and prepare for public health crises like coronavirus.

Building on this legislation, this week I will be introducing a bipartisan bill to establish a commission to study the drug supply chain. This commission will provide recommendations to Congress on two fronts. The first is solutions to increase drug manufacturing capacity in the United States. Second is actions necessary to ensure domestic manufacturing is able to maintain a sufficient supply of drugs in the event of a public health emergency such as the coronavirus outbreak.

This builds on the incredible and groundbreaking work President Trump is doing through Operation Warp Speed. This project aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe and effective vaccine for coronavirus by January 2021. The president has invested in building manufacturing capacity for several vaccine candidates, which have shown promise in safety and efficacy trials. One of these candidates, manufactured by Moderna Therapeutics, is already enterting phase 3 of clinical trials—the last phase before final FDA Approval. It is important to note that while this groundbreaking program has accelerated development of vaccines at an unprecedented rate never seen before, it has not compromised the safety or standards needed for a drug to come to market.

Coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on the United States and the rest of the world, but it has not dampened our fighting spirit or drive for innovation. I am proud of the bipartisan work we are doing in Congress, working with the Administration to beat coronavirus and improve our ability to respond to future outbreaks. By working together, I am confident that we can protect public health and get our economy back on track to set new records for jobs and prosperity in our community.

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