Following new CDC guidance that fully vaccinated Americans can remove masks and resume normal activities, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi announced the Nullifying Opportunities for Variants to Infect and Decimate (NOVID) Act, an expansive coronavirus prevention program that will ensure Americans are not subject to another deadly surge of COVID-19 domestically.
Inspired by the Lend-Lease Act the United States used to provide vital supplies to allies during the Second World War and based on the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program which has helped save 20 million lives since 2003, the bill would limit the emergence of COVID variants which could threaten outbreaks in the United States by helping to end outbreaks abroad which enable such mutations.
According to a recent survey by Oxfam, 88% of international epidemiologists report that persistent low vaccine coverage in many countries would make it more likely for vaccine resistant mutations to appear, while 66% said we had a year or less before the virus mutates to the extent that the majority of first-generation vaccines will become ineffective. Notably, the threat posed by these mutations can be reduced by expanded American efforts to combat the pandemic abroad which will reduce the virus’ capacity to develop these mutations.
“While we’ve made excellent progress in countering the COVID-19 pandemic here at home as evident by the CDC’s new mask guidance, the coronavirus outbreaks devastating other parts of the world continue to represent an enormous threat to our domestic progress as those surges dramatically increase the risk of double and triple mutation variants which our current vaccines may not be able to stop,” said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.
“Because of that, it’s essential that we end these outbreaks now to drastically reduce the risk and range of these mutations forming and threatening the success of our pandemic response. That’s why I’m introducing legislation to protect Americans from new variants of the coronavirus by helping our partners abroad defeat COVID outbreaks and limit the development of vaccine-resistant strains. Just as the Lend-Lease Act helped us win the Second World War by providing our allies with resources to help us defeat fascism far from our shores, this legislation will help us win the battle against new strains of coronavirus by reducing the risk of their reaching the United States.”
Under the NOVID Act, the United States would establish the $19 billion Pandemic Preparedness and Response Program (PanPReP) through the State Department, modelled on PEPFAR, to oversee and coordinate the U.S. global strategy for the COVID-19 pandemic. The PanPReP would work with international partners and host countries to procure enough vaccines to inoculate 60% of the populations of the 92 low- and middle-income countries eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) program in order to drastically reduce the emergence of dangerous new virus variants.
Legislation would dramatically expand American aid to India, Argentina, and other nations to end COVID surges through vaccination, reducing risk of dangerous new variants.
To ensure effective administration of the vaccines, the program would include ensuring their end-to-end delivery. PanPReP would also work with manufacturers to rapidly scale up production capacity of vaccines and their components in order to secure sufficient supply to achieve herd immunity in COVAX nations and to prepare for any subsequent production of second-generation vaccines necessary to counter new virus strains in the United States and abroad.