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COVID-19 has raised the specter of pandemic planning and the question of what can be done now to prevent future disaster.
At the G7 Summit held from May 19–21, 2023 in Hiroshima, Japan, President Biden announced a $250 million contribution, subject to Congressional notification, to the World Bank’s Pandemic Fund “to demonstrate the United States’ ongoing commitment to strengthening global health security around the world” (1). This fund was set up in September 2022, and expressions of Interest (EOI) to use funds were open in February 2023, with a closing date of May 19, 2023, which saw the fund oversubscribed by EOI by 23-fold, according to a World Bank brief on the subject (2).
To date, more than $1.66 billion has been pledged to the fund by partners, with the US government contribution of $450 million galvanizing funding from other donors. An additional $500 million was requested in President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget, “... which will be a critical step towards addressing what the World Bank estimates is a $10 billion annual funding gap in pandemic preparedness” (1).
While the amounts involved seem small in comparison to the outsized havoc COVID-19 wrecked on world economies large and small, it is nonetheless a hopeful signal to see transnational cooperation on something that, in an interconnected world, affects everyone everywhere. But it also raises the question about how to prioritize both planning and spending to mitigate the blow of future pandemics.
What should have been in place prior to COVID-19 surfacing—and from that hard won education—should be put in place now as a consequence to what we learned. Is surveillance more useful than production capacity? Is mechanism of transmission invaluable versus manufacturing agility and capacity. These are hard questions but need answering now, not in some far-off future time zone.
1. USAID. United States Announces $250 Million Planned Contribution to the Pandemic Fund to Support Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response. Press Release. May 19, 2023.
2. The World Bank. Demand for Funding from Pandemic Fund Exceeds Expectations with Requests Totaling Over $7 Billion, Brief, WorldBank.org (accessed May 22, 2023).
Mike Hennessy Jr. is the President and CEO of MJH Life Sciences.
Vol. 36, No. 6
When referring to this article, please cite it as Hennessy, M. Governance of Future Pandemics. BioPharm International 36 (6) 2023.