The CDC wants $6 Billion dollars to kickstart a mass vaccination effort that CDC director Robert Redfield said is coming straight from the top, but experts warn the efforts need more time and will pose a public health challenge, claiming they could “be even worse than the problems with testing and PPE.”
Operation Warp Speed has grabbed all the headlines when it comes to the federal government’s efforts to deploy a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. A colossal enterprise, some supply chain experts have called it “an Amazon Prime delivery model for a vaccine.”
But, the real distribution networks tasked with the job are located in 64 jurisdictions brought together under the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ELC) cooperative agreement; a 25-year old funding program inside the CDC used to enhance “state, local and territorial capacities for emerging infectious disease control.”
In March, the Trump Administration secured $631 Million from Congress for these jurisdictions through the CARES Act to “expand their capacity for testing, contact tracing, and containment,” according to HHS director, Alex Azar. But, the CDC has come back, months later, with a counteroffer ten times the original award, requesting $6 Billion to cover the logistical requirements of distributing a vaccine to the entire U.S. population and beyond.
The $6 Billion-dollar request was made privately among CDC officials and members of Congress before CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield called the agency’s need for more funds “urgent” during an open congressional hearing last week. The decision to go public was likely motivated by the Democrats’ blocking of the GOP coronavirus relief bill last week, which contained the $6 Billion allocation in addition to the $20 Billion requested separately by HHS for further vaccine manufacturing and development, The Hill reported.
First blood in November
Besides the 50 states, ELC jurisdictions also include five U.S. territories and three freely associated states, as well as all federally recognized tribal nations serving more than 50,000 people. In Trump’s first year in office, the CDC introduced a new funding mechanism for the jurisdictions to more quickly deploy resources in a public health emergency over which the CDC, itself, exercises discretion.