This week, the U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, introduced the latest coronavirus emergency relief bill, called the Heroes Act. This is a $3 trillion bill intended to provide relief to the workers and families impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The bill provides approximately $4 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH); $3 billion of which is directed to help restore research that has been disrupted in this crisis. While the Coalition for the Life Sciences (CLS) is grateful for the efforts by congressional leaders, the new proposal falls far short of what NIH needs in order to ramp up the biomedical enterprise. The CLS continues to believe and continues to urge Congress to support $34.5 billion for the NIH.1
More than ever before, the country is relying on the scientific community to help guide our path to recovery. The scientific enterprise has vastly accelerated our knowledge of COVID-19 due to the knowledge built on the scientific foundation enabled by the federal investment in NIH. Yet, ongoing scientific investigations has been abruptly terminated as labs have closed to heed shelter-in-place, stay-at-home guidelines. Notably, COVID-19 relevant work has increased, albeit down-scaled to achieve social distancing, and some researchers have pivoted, launching COVID-related projects that deploy their expertise and technologies to address the crisis. This shift has resulted in the interruption of existing projects. It is now essential, even before we know the ultimate dimensions of the current crisis, or the timing, penetrance and duration of the predicted second wave of infection, for robust, supplementary funding for the larger biomedical research enterprise as we consider the challenges of restarting research labs across the country.
The CLS appreciates the support Congress has provided for the on-going investigation into COVID-19 research. Even more research is needed in order to understand and address the full range of topics and problems crucial to the health and well-being of all Americans. There is still so much more we need to learn about COVID-19 if we are to prevent future public health challenges that we currently face.
The CLS stands ready to work with Congress to maximize medical research and the promise it holds and help the entire community recover from these very trying times.