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Simpson Encourages Innovative Approach to COVID-19 Vaccine

Letter to VP Pence raises need for timely response to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments

Washington, April 1, 2020


Simpson Encourages Innovative Approach to COVID-19 Vaccine

Letter to VP Pence raises need for timely response to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments

Washington, D.C. - On Monday, Congressman Mike Simpson (ID-02) sent a letter to Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, encouraging the Coronavirus Task Force to explore innovative technologies that show promise in creating vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. The letter highlights past and current investments and past legislative efforts to encourage the use of innovative technologies to meet the Federal government’s goal of delivering a vaccine within 12 weeks of a declared pandemic.

Congressman Simpson was joined on the letter by the Ranking Member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Tom Cole (OK-04).

“COVID-19 is unlike anything our society has ever dealt with,” said Congressman Simpson. “That is why we need to explore all available technologies, both new and old, to respond efficiently and effectively. I am very encouraged that novel technology has already shown great progress in developing a vaccine for COVID-19. The Administration is working around the clock at every level to combat COVID-19 and I am thankful for their efforts thus far. With so many different issues to address, my hope is that this letter raises a potential solution for the Coronavirus Task Force given the Federal government’s past support and interest across many agencies.”

“In this letter to Vice President Mike Pence, my colleague Congressman Mike Simpson and I highlight the importance of utilizing novel manufacturing platforms and technologies to ensure treatments and eventual vaccines for COVID-19 are developed as rapidly as possible. Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services’ goal is to develop vaccines within 12 weeks of a declared pandemic,” said Congressman Tom Cole. “By exploring various options in vaccine manufacturing and deployment, the United States can meet this goal and slow the spread of this coronavirus and future pandemics in a more timely manner.”

The letter reads, “As the United States combats the rapid spread of COVID-19, we would like to draw your attention to the attached March 12, 2020 Defense One report on a company leveraging innovative, flexible, plant-based, technologies to rapidly respond to COVID-19. According to the article, the company “produced a COVID-19 vaccine in just 20 days” and “could produce as many as 10 million doses a month.”  This new technology was proven in 2012 in conjunction with an investment by the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency[1].  Under the partnership, an H1N1 influenza vaccine was developed in under a month and the ability to rapidly scale up production to provide millions of doses validated.  In 2018, we raised the prospect of leveraging successful taxpayer investments in pursuit of vaccine preparedness with HHS: “Has the Department considered pursuing successful capabilities already funded by other agencies to include DOD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)?”

 

The text of the letter can be found here.

 

The Defense One article back be found here.

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