Lucas proposes legislation to coordinate national strategy on infectious diseases

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) on April 23 introduced legislation that would authorize a new coordinated research and development strategy for pandemic disease prediction, forecasting and computing.

Rep. Lucas sponsored the Computing Opportunities to Vanquish Infectious Diseases (COVID) Research Act of 2020, H.R. 6599, with eight GOP cosponsors, to combat infectious diseases like COVID-19.

“One of the most valuable things we in Congress can do in the fight against COVID-19 is give our federal scientific agencies the resources needed to provide an immediate response and to better prepare us for future disease outbreaks,” said Rep. Lucas, ranking member of the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

If enacted, H.R. 6599 would authorize the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy interagency working group on Emerging Infectious Disease Prediction and Forecasting and would direct the group to develop a national strategy to address infectious diseases, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Lucas’ office.

The legislation also would authorize the National Academies of Science Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Disease and 21st Century Health Threats as a standing advisory committee of experts to provide scientific advice to the interagency working group, according to the summary.

Additionally, the bill would support the research being done at the U.S. Department of Energy by authorizing $50 million for the department’s Infectious Disease Research Program over the next two years, among several other provisions.

“The federal research community is doing great work and using their considerable talents to fight this pandemic and address the many challenges it has caused,” said Rep. Lucas. “The COVID Research Act authorizes a strategic and coordinated approach so our scientists and researchers have the resources they need to succeed.”

H.R. 6599 has been referred for consideration to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, as well as to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.