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Walden: Harnessing the public and private sectors to battle a pandemic


In an op-ed in Modern Healthcare, Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) explains that E&C Republicans launched the Second Wave Preparedness Project to help “save lives, resources and time” as our nation continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Walden conducts oversight of federal health agencies and regularly communicates with the public health officials leading our response efforts.

Through the Second Wave Preparedness Project, more than 100 recommendations rolled out in three separate pillars. The first pillar was on testing and surveillance, and the second covered vaccines and therapeutics. The final pillar, which was released in August, included recommendations on the health care supply chain. Learn more about the project in the op-ed below.

Modern Healthcare
Harnessing the public and private sectors to battle a pandemic
By Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR)
September 19, 2020

Earlier this year, Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and I found ourselves in a unique position to help the country respond to COVID-19 pandemic. In my role as the House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican leader and Rep. Guthrie’s role as Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican leader, we—along with Health Subcommittee Republican Leader Dr. Michael Burgess (R-Texas)—help oversee federal departments and agencies like HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration.

This spring, we launched the Second Wave Preparedness Project to provide recommendations to help better position the country in the fight against COVID-19, especially as we approach flu season.

Every day counts during this pandemic, and the goal of the Second Wave Preparedness Project has been to study every aspect of this pandemic and determine what’s needed to save lives, resources and time. Developing policy recommendations in the middle of a pandemic in some ways felt like we were building the plane as we were flying it, but my committee has a long, bipartisan tradition of working to better prepare the country for emergencies. Last year, we sent the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act to President Donald Trump for his signature, which reauthorized critical public health preparedness and response programs.

Through committee oversight, I’ve had the opportunity to not only develop recommendations to help streamline the response effort, but also to speak to many public health experts on the front lines of this pandemic. I’ve left those conversations feeling confident that, despite the breakneck speed at which we are moving, the safety and efficacy of vaccines and therapeutics will not be compromised.

Meanwhile, there are lessons learned and opportunities for efficiencies, which is why we made recommendations through the Second Wave Preparedness Project. These recommendations complement the administration’s ongoing efforts to defeat COVID-19, and I’m pleased some of them have already been implemented.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I don’t think any of us could have predicted the human suffering this virus would cause at home and around the world. It is my hope we can work together, utilizing these recommendations, to overcome the many challenges caused by this pandemic and come back stronger and more prepared for the future.

CLICK HERE to read the op-ed.

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