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Funding bill is mixed bag for pandemic efforts

Illustration of a coronavirus cell falling into a time warp.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Pandemic preparedness advocates found things to like in the latest minibus, but also some worrying cuts.

Why it matters: While most of the country (and much of Congress) has moved on from pandemics, advocates are trying to maintain readiness while a reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act remains stalled.

What's inside: The Labor-HHS portion of the six-bill package unveiled today has some small funding increases:

  • The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which works with industry on developing vaccines and treatments, would get a $65 million increase.
  • The Strategic National Stockpile is in line for a $15 million increase.
  • $10 million goes toward strengthening the public health supply chain to manufacture key supplies in the United States.

Yes, but: Republicans touted the way the package claws back $4.3 billion in "unnecessary" COVID-19 funding.

  • There is some uncertainty about where those cuts will fall, but potential targets include activities like genomic sequencing and contact tracing.

What they're saying: "It's very good and important to see areas where pandemic preparedness budgets and programs were strengthened, including an increase in BARDA's budget," said Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

  • He also touted funding for "rapid development of medical countermeasures against viral families with pandemic potential."
  • But he warned about potential damage from the cuts, acknowledging it's still unclear exactly how they will play out.
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