Omicron variant on the rise, elected officials push for COVID-19 and the law on centers of excellence for pandemic response

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney are urging the government not to “wait until it is too late” to prepare for the next variant and pandemic of COVID-19.

With the recent Omicron case discovery in New York, Gillibrand and Maloney are pushing for COVID-19 and pandemic response centers to prepare for emergencies that can better access and control potential outbreaks of future variants through centers coordinated tasks.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City, hospitals and first responders were overwhelmed by the large number of patients flocking to emergency rooms. Medical supplies were scarce and impromptu sites were set up to handle the large number of infected people. One of the biggest criticisms leveled at the government when the virus attack began was that the United States was not ready.

If passed, legislation to fund centers of excellence as a real-time emergency response to COVID-19 variants, ensuring healthcare workers do not face a repeat of the disaster in slow motion that hit the city in March 2020.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is pushing for passage of the Centers of Excellence for COVID-19 and Pandemic Response Act. Photo by Dean Moses

On December 5, Gillibrand and Maloney joined health officials outside NYU Langone Health on the East Side in touting COVID-19 and the Pandemic Response Centers of Excellence Act, a bipartisan bill that would provide a funding of $ 500,000,000 to establish centers across the country to manage emergency medical responses.

“The Omicron variant and recent news that variant cases have been confirmed in New York City serve as a reminder that COVID is not over and that tackling the pandemic and public health challenges is and will be an ongoing effort. Viruses evolve and our ability to respond must evolve alongside them, ”said Gillibrand, using NYU Langone as an example of a medical center that could revolutionize rapid response through its ability to implement extensive diagnostic testing and clinical care. for the most complicated cases to save lives.

“In fact, much of the late-stage development of vaccines and other life-saving interventions has been done in partnership with academic medical centers. This is what academic medical centers are designed to do. They are ideally placed to serve as a bridge between government, academia, public health and private industry, while integrating the needs of their local communities, including the most vulnerable and underserved. They are at the heart of the implementation of innovation. They combine research, clinical operations and education, and with sufficient federal resources, they can use this knowledge to help our country fully combat this public health crisis and leave us better prepared to coordinate a real-time response to the next, ”he said. added Gillibrand.

Mark J. Mulligan, MD, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology and director of the Vaccine Center at NYU Langone Health. Photo by Dean Moses

Testing and traceability and vaccination sites are a few initiatives developed to help fight COVID-19, but it took months to coordinate and a year later for vaccines to finally be distributed.

Elected officials believe that this legislation would significantly improve the tracking of variants and prepare the overall health and safety response through “centers of excellence” designated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In addition to providing a holistic approach to care, the bill will allow academic medical centers to take advantage of public and private partnerships to help provide clinician training, infection prevention, public health surveillance and follow-up. results, public awareness and education, clinical research and development for testing, treatment and vaccines. It also allows the HHS to award grants, contracts or cooperative agreements to academic medical centers to accelerate their proactive care of COVID-19 patients, recovery of survivors, mental health services for workers in the health, equitable health care for all (fight against disparities in low-income communities), health education, etc.

“During COVID-19, academic medical centers were the epicenter of the epicenter, the cutting edge of research in response to COVID-19. A lot of the trials needed, a lot of the research needed, the patients were here and the findings and the treatments remain at centers like this. We must continue to fund them. We have to support them in order to make scientific progress, ”said Maloney.

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