WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) joined Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown as well as several of his colleagues in the House Ohio Delegation in urging the Trump Administration to ensure that the funding provided by Congress in the bipartisan Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act be immediately made available for the research, development and review of products and treatments to help people suffering from COVID-19. The letter highlights Ohio’s strong biopharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors and points to the Buckeye state as a prime location for scaling up research and production of treatments and medical equipment. In total, the letter was signed by Congressman Joyce, Senators Portman and Brown, and Reps. Marcy Kaptur, Anthony Gonzalez, Tim Ryan, Mike Turner, Bob Latta, Marcia Fudge, Steve Stivers, Troy Balderson, Joyce Beatty, and Steve Chabot.
As of March 22, 2020, more than 417 individuals in the U.S. and 14,632 individuals globally have lost their lives due to COVID-19 and COVID-19 related complications, including Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which causes fluid to build up in the lungs, restricting oxygen supply to vital organs. While a COVID-19 vaccine is still being developed, treating the virus’ symptoms and related health complications could help reduce the death rate among those infected now.
“In Ohio, we know a thing or two about what the American biopharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors can accomplish,” said Joyce. “I was proud to join my fellow Buckeyes in Congress on both sides of the aisle in sending this letter. We look forward to working with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and others in the Administration to ensure that the federal government is effectively leveraging resources and working with the biopharmaceutical and manufacturing partners, both in Ohio and across the country, prepared to step up and help us combat COVID-19.”
The full letter can be found below and HERE:
Vice President Pence and Dr. Birx:
Mr. Alex M. Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Dr. Deborah L. Birx, MD, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator
Dr. Robert R. Redfield Jr., MD, Director of the Centers for Disease Control
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, MD, NIAID Director
Mr. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
Dr. Peter Navarro, Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy
Dr. Robert P. Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Dr. Rick A. Bright, Ph.D., Director of the Biomedical Advances Research and Development Authority (BARDA)
We would like to thank you for the March 6, 2020 bulletin from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), soliciting proposals for developing new or repurposed therapies and vaccines for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Now that Congress has passed a bipartisan supplemental funding package to support COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts across the country, we write to encourage the White House Coronavirus Task Force to ensure that the funding be quickly made available for research, development and review of products to protect the health and safety of the American people includes a strategic effort to develop a variety of treatment options for COVID-19 and COVID-19-related complications – particularly for those individuals who are most vulnerable to the virus.
As of March 20, 2020, more than 200 individuals in the U.S. and 9,840 individuals globally have lost their lives due to COVID-19-related complications, including Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), with the threat of these numbers continuing to rise unless we respond quickly and meaningfully. ARDS, which can be caused by COVID-19 or other viruses or infectious pathogens, causes fluid to build up in the lungs, restricting oxygen supply to vital organs. Because ARDS can be fatal, we understand that BARDA leadership has proactively reached out to an Ohio-based biotech company that has developed a therapeutic approach that has shown promise in treating ARDS as a way to help bolster our response to COVID-19.
Congress supports BARDA’s leadership in assessing how best to respond to the coronavirus and related conditions and acknowledged the value that new diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutic options would play in preventing further outbreaks by including more than $3 billion for the research, development, and review of new products that help to protect the health and safety of the American people from COVID-19 in the supplemental funding bill. This total includes more than $2 billion for the Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to invest in promising platform-based technologies with U.S-based manufacturing for vaccines and therapeutics.
The sooner we can develop effective treatment options for those most vulnerable to these complications – including the elderly, the infirmed, those who are immunocompromised, and others – the sooner we can curb the death rate associated with COVID-19. We urge the Task Force and BARDA to use the funding made available by the supplemental to strategically invest in areas that show promise in successfully treating those with COVID-19 induced complications, such as ARDS, and prioritize the U.S.-based manufacturing of any effective therapeutics identified through these efforts. As Congressional representatives for the State of Ohio, we’ve seen first-hand what our Ohio-based biopharmaceutical sector and manufacturing can accomplish, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that the federal government is effectively leveraging resources and partners both Ohio and across the country that are ready to step up and address COVID-19 and its related complications.
We stand ready to work with you to ensure the strategic and efficient implementation of the supplemental funding package to ensure Ohio and those individuals impacted by COVID-19 have the resources and support in place to prevent the further spread of this disease and improve the outcomes associated with the virus.