A rewritten pandemic manufacturing bill was introduced to both houses of Congress yesterday to enable the federal government to manufacture or contract with existing manufacturers to make products to fight COVID-19.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), builds off the COVID-19 Emergency Manufacturing Act, introduced in 2020 to enable the federal government to manufacture or contract with existing companies to manufacture personal protective equipment, prescription drugs and other medical supplies necessary for the pandemic.
The new bill would supplement what President Joe Biden has promised to do — “fully use” the Defense Production Act to compel manufacturers to produce more PPE, drugs and medical supplies to fight the pandemic. It’s unclear how many times the Trump administration used the act, according to a report by The New Republic.
“The Biden administration is stepping in where the Trump administration utterly failed to make sure our states and communities have enough PPE, COVID-19 tests, and now vaccines, but Congress should prepare to do more,” Warren said in a news release. “Our bill enables the federal government to rapidly produce the equipment, supplies, vaccines, and prescription drugs Americans need when they need it most — in this and in any future public health emergencies.”
“Current COVID-19 treatments and drugs will be manufactured under a recent executive order, but the United States cannot continue to be unprepared as new vaccines and treatments are developed,” added Schakowsky, who chairs the Consumer Protection and Commerce subcommittee of the powerful House Energy and Commerce committee. “This bill will help scale up supplies and increase our capacity for development and distribution for future COVID-19 drugs that are developed and proven to be effective in the fight against the virus.”
The Pandemic Emergency Manufacturing Act of 2021 would:
- Establish an emergency office of manufacturing for public health to ensure an adequate supply of drugs, devices, biological products, active pharmaceutical ingredients, and other supplies necessary to diagnose, mitigate, and treat COVID-19 and to address shortages in products used to treat non-COVID conditions and illnesses.
- Require the office to manufacture, or enter into contracts to manufacture, COVID-19 products and other critical drugs and medical devices in shortage. The office would be required to provide COVID-19 products at no cost to federal, state, local, and tribal health programs and to sell COVID-19 products at cost to international and other commercial entities.
- Direct the office to begin constructing, or enter into contracts to construct, vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing facilities to ensure the immediate production, at-scale, of COVID-19 vaccines when such vaccines become available.
You can download the text of the bill here.