The busy week continues on Capitol Hill. Today, we have news from yesterday’s Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) hearing on America’s COVID-19 response as well as a bill that would address patent gaps.
Yesterday, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing,Examining Our COVID-10 Response: An Update from the Frontlines, featuring public health experts from across the country.
Familiar themes emerged. Senators focused on disparities highlighted by COVID-19, the safety of in-person school, COVID variants and surveillance capabilities, long-term health impacts and short-term mental health impacts, and vaccine administration.
Notably, several Senators and witnesses lauded the success of public-private partnerships to produce vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics so quickly.
Learn more about the COVID-19 therapeutic pipeline.
Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) asked what we need to do to increase access to therapeutics, especially for vulnerable and underserved patients.
“Therapeutics is one area where we probably have underinvested,” said Dr. Ashish K. Jha of Brown University School of Public Health. He said we’re “underusing” therapies like monoclonal antibodies, and we need to put more resources toward therapeutic R&D—because “the virus is not going away even when most of us have gotten vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, Members of Congress introduced the Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement (IDEA) Act of 2021, “bicameral, bipartisan legislation to close the gap that women, minorities, and others face when procuring patent rights in the United States,” according to a statement.
Introduced by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), the legislation would direct the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to collect and report on demographic data from patent applicants, offering insights into the gaps.
Dr. Michelle’s Diagnosis: “The Biotechnology Innovation Organization believes that diversity is important not just as a matter of simple justice, but as a necessity in this competitive world. We cannot afford to waste talent, and must draw on the creative capacities of our entire population. That is especially true in the biosciences where the US leads the world in innovation,” said BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath. “The IDEA Act is vital to giving us a clear picture of where we are and what needs to be done to move forward. BIO commends Senators Hirono and Tillis, and Representatives Velazquez and Stivers, for this important legislation, and we urge its swift enactment.”
More Health Care News:
The New York Times: LGBTQ people face increased risks from COVID, but have concerns about the vaccine
“Evidence suggests that some sexual and gender minorities—especially people of color—are hesitant to get vaccinated due to mistrust of the medical establishment.”