A new Pandemic Preparedness Plan from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) paves the way for faster responses to emerging or re-emerging threats of infectious diseases.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID and chief medical advisor to the president, said the new plan is government-wide and upgrades plans for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases that NIAID has had in place for years.
- The plan includes identifying priority pathogens and prototype pathogens. Fauci explained that priority pathogens are very specific microbes that scientists suspect could evolve into a pandemic form, whereas prototype pathogens are broad virus families, like coronaviruses, that are important to prepare for in case one of the viruses becomes a threat.
- Fauci said this strategy has been “extraordinarily successful” in the past, with coronavirus research starting before 2002 that ultimately led to the development of the Covid-19 vaccine.
- The plan involves an all-of-government response, said Fauci, with coordination between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Defense Department (DoD), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Department and others.
- Fauci said NIAID scientists work on research for vaccines and treatments, provide grants to universities and medical centers and collaborate with pharmaceutical companies.
- He said NIH has a strong communication enterprise, working with a White House communications group several times a week and one at HHS daily.
- Work on a pan-coronavirus vaccine, advanced diagnostics and antiviral discovery and development are going on now in preparation for future outbreaks, Fauci said.