As Asia and America brace for more cases of the Wuhan coronavirus, 2020 presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren has announced a new plan to combat infectious diseases.

Warren’s plan, released on her campaign websiteoutlines “a plan to prevent, contain, and treat infectious diseases –– one that will help keep America safe and healthy.” Some of the key components include improved funding for public agencies and equitable access to health care. 

Specifically, she plans to start with preventing transmission and being ready for outbreaks by increasing funding for public health systems and agencies that help study and manage diseases. Warren mentions collaborating with Congress to restore funding to agencies like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the State Department, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). 

ADVERTISEMENT

Naturally, her campaign pillar of Medicare for All is also part of the plan, with the rationale that granting individuals basic health care for all communities, regardless of income, will provide “high quality health care” that prevents infectious diseases from spreading.

She also cites climate change as a catalyzing force that spreads diseases, such as the Zika virus, due to the effect climate change has on global ecosystems. 

Warren additionally intends to usher America toward membership in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global partnership that works to accelerate vaccine development against emerging infectious diseases and enable equitable access to these vaccines for people during outbreaks.” 

Speaking further on vaccines, the Massachusetts senator says that since 2017 she has been urging the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prepare for a pandemic influenza outbreak by developing a universal flu vaccine.

In terms of paying for these new funds and programs, Warren poses the idea of creating a “swear jar” that will fine drug companies who violate the law, as many opioid manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies have allegedly done. This money will go to the National Institute of Health (NIH) for increased vaccine research and treatments. 

“Proactivity, preparedness, and prevention” all appear to be key themes in Warren’s plan, emphasizing how increased funding will lead to government agencies and health care companies to quell an infectious disease before it becomes an epidemic. Research for vaccine development, Medicare for All and equity requirements into community health and response programs for fast treatment are some of the major aspects of her plan. 

She concludes her plan by mentioning the Wuhan coronavirus and how novel viruses like it “remind us why we need robust international institutions, strong investments in public health, and a government that is prepared to jump into action at a moment's notice. When we prepare and effectively collaborate to address common threats that don’t stop at borders, the international community can stop these diseases in their tracks,” Warren said.

Published on Jan 28, 2020