To get ahead of future pandemics, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) recently unveiled sweeping bipartisan legislation that would provide accountability regarding the international reporting and monitoring of outbreaks of novel viruses and diseases.
“The response to the tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic must be global,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “We must work to close the gaps in our global alert system and work with our allies to make sure this never happens again.”
Rep. Fitzpatrick on May 28 sponsored the Never Again International Outbreak Prevention Act, H.R. 3583, with original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA). U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) on June 1 also signed on as a cosponsor of the bill, which would institute international reporting and monitoring of outbreaks of novel viruses and diseases, sanction foreign nations that do not put such preventative systems in place, and review the COVID-19-related actions taken by the World Health Organization (WHO).
If enacted, H.R. 3583 would require the establishment of international “sentinel surveillance” systems to collect data, identify trends and outbreaks, and provide monitoring on diseases, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Fitzpatrick’s office. Countries would be required to report all new cases within three days. The bill also would provide the federal government with the necessary tools to encourage foreign nations to comply with these goals and to punish bad actors, according to the summary.
Additionally, H.R. 3583 would allow countries to be stripped of sovereign immunity if they are found to have intentionally misled the international community on the outbreak of a health concern that leads to a pandemic, and American citizens would be able to bring lawsuits against foreign nations in U.S. courts for damages, the summary says.
“As we have seen from COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party has been intentionally and maliciously misleading the rest of the world about the scope and spread of the novel coronavirus,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “We must hold other nations accountable for their actions that threaten and harm the livelihoods of Americans and people across the world.”
The congressman added that organizations such as the WHO also must be held accountable for any inactions regarding the spread of COVID-19.
Toward that goal, the legislation would require a formal investigation of the WHO’s response to COVID-19. The President of the United States would be required to try and work with the leaders of the G-20 nations to create a report on the international response to COVID-19, and to conduct an audit of the WHO’s response to COVID-19, according to the bill summary.
H.R. 3583, among other provisions, also would create an international ban on wet markets, where animals are sold, dead or alive, for human consumption.