National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan Creates Path Out of Pandemic
President Joe Biden released the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan (https://www.whitehouse.gov/covidplan/#prevent) in March 2022, enabling the United States to move forward with goals to protect against and treat COVID-19, prepare for new variants, prevent economic and educational shutdowns, and expand vaccinations.
The plan (https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/NAT-COVID-19-PREPAREDNESS-PLAN.pdf) is a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy that “lays out the roadmap to help fight COVID-19 in the future as we move America from crisis to a time when COVID-19 does not disrupt our daily lives and is something we prevent, protect against, and treat,” the White House said.
“To fully execute on this plan requires Congress doing its part to invest in tools that work,” the White House said (https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/NAT-COVID-19-PREPAREDNESS-PLAN.pdf). “Additional funding will be necessary to provide critical treatments like pills and monoclonal antibodies, to make further investments to shore up America’s testing supply, to provide resources that guard against and prepare for new variants, and to continue to fight this virus abroad.”
The plan outlines exactly how the administration will work with Congress to accomplish its four goals:
Protect Against and Treat COVID-19
- Launch a vaccination campaign as soon as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a vaccine for children younger than age 5.
- Increase manufacturing capacity to reliably produce an additional 1 billion vaccine doses per year and accelerate research and development of a single COVID vaccine that protects against COVID-19 and all its variants.
- Continue vaccination outreach and education efforts.
- Ensure a sufficient supply of COVID-19 treatments for all Americans.
- Launch initiatives to increase Americans’ access to treatment and public health guidance.
- Update the framework for prevention recommendations to reflect the current state of the disease.
- Prioritize protections for immunocompromised individuals and increase equitable access to care.
Prepare for New Variants
- Improve data collection, sequencing, and wastewater surveillance capabilities to identify and detect new and emerging variants.
- Determine the impact of new variants on current vaccines, treatments, and tests.
- Establish a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services operational hub to accelerate the development, production, and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
- Use FDA processes to expedite regulatory review of variant-specific versions of vaccines and treatments.
Prevent Economic and Educational Shutdowns
- Give schools and businesses guidance, tests, and supplies to stay open, including tools to improve ventilation and air filtration.
- Provide paid sick leave to workers who need to miss work because of COVID-19 infection or to care for a loved one who has COVID-19.
- Update guidance for employers to ensure safer workplaces.
- Help early care and education providers remain safely open.
- Expand service levels at public-facing federal offices such as Social Security.
- Leverage the vaccine donation model to deliver 1.2 billion vaccine doses to the rest of the world.
- Increase vaccination efforts and make emergency supplies widely available.
- Continue global leadership in the COVID-19 response and build better health security.
“America must maintain the tools—vaccines, boosters, treatments, tests, and masks—to protect against COVID-19 and dramatically decrease the risk of the most severe outcomes,” the White House said (https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/NAT-COVID-19-PREPAREDNESS-PLAN.pdf). “We must be prepared to respond to a new variant quickly and keep our schools and businesses open.”