A new federal law, Bolstering Infectious Outbreaks (BIO) Preparedness Workforce Act, seeks to ensure the U.S. is never caught off guard again as it was during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, Congresswoman Lori Trahan, a co-founder of the bipartisan Pandemic Preparedness Caucus, secured passage of a pilot program to train and staff bio-preparedness and infectious disease experts.
“There is simply no excuse for us to get caught flat-footed by another COVID-19 scale pandemic. We must apply the lessons learned over the past two and a half years now to ensure we’re better prepared to prevent another infectious disease outbreak in the future,” said Trahan. “Without critical investments to strengthen the pipeline of these experts, we risk leaving ourselves vulnerable to the next pandemic. The BIO Preparedness Workforce Pilot Program is a critical step in ensuring these critical positions are fully staffed and ready to respond to the next public health threat.”
The measure was signed into law by President Joe Biden last Friday. It establishes a new loan repayment program for health care professionals who spend at least half of their time engaged in bio-preparedness and response activities or providing infectious diseases care. Further, the program aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority individuals serving as bio-preparedness or infectious diseases physicians.