On March 10, the House passed the Senate-amended version of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319), a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package intended to address the impact of the pandemic on the economy, state and local governments, and individuals. The package contains public health provisions intended to boost COVID testing and contact tracing, strengthen the public health workforce, provide premium assistance for certain health insurance plans, modernize Affordable Care Act exchanges, and ensure that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program covers COVID-19 vaccines and treatment.
Section 3004 of the bill provides $500 million to the Food and Drug Administration to:
- Facilitate advanced continuous manufacturing for vaccines and their components;
- Resume facility inspections that were postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic;
- Review diagnostics, medical devices, therapeutics, and vaccines authorized to prevent, treat, or diagnose COVID-19; and
- Oversee the medical device, therapeutics, and vaccine supply chains and address shortages.
The American Rescue Plan Act also provides $7.5 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under Section 3001 to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The funding can be used to provide technical assistance and grants to state and local public health departments to support community vaccination sites, mobile vaccination sites, and information technology intended to share data related to COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Under Section 3002, CDC would receive $1 billion to strengthen vaccine confidence and provide information and education on licensed vaccines.
Under the Section 3003 of the bill, the Department of Health and Human Services would receive $6.05 billion for research, development, manufacturing, production, and purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, medical products, and supplies.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will be sent to President Biden and will be signed into law. COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution is a major component of the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 response plan. The American Rescue Plan Act ensures that critical public health agencies have the resources they need to make sure Americans have access to the safe and effective medical products they need to fight COVID-19.