Press Releases

Trahan, Burgess, Crenshaw, Lee Introduce Bipartisan Pandemic Preparedness Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA-03)Michael Burgess (R-TX-26)Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02), and Susie Lee (D-NV-03) introduced the Disease X Act of 2023, bipartisan legislation that will help ensure the United States works rapidly to prepare for and develop the necessary medical countermeasures to combat future pandemics.

“It’s been over three years since the COVID-19 pandemic began wreaking havoc on our nation, and yet we still have no sustained funding, program, or strategy dedicated to accelerating the development of countermeasures for unidentified infectious diseases. It’s imperative that we not only learn the lessons from the mistakes made leading up to and during the pandemic, but also take action to ensure we’re never caught flat-footed in our response to a future viral threat,” said Congresswoman Trahan, Co-Founder the bipartisan Congressional Pandemic Preparedness Caucus and a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee. “With infectious disease outbreaks occurring at concerningly rapid rates, it’s incumbent on Congress to act swiftly and responsibly. That’s why I’m partnering with Congressman Burgess, Congressman Crenshaw, and Congresswoman Lee to introduce the bipartisan Disease X Act, and I look forward to working with them and our colleagues on the Health Subcommittee to get this legislation passed into law.”

“America was severely underprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring our need to proactively address future threats to better protect public health and save lives,” said Congressman Burgess. “The Disease X Act is crucial legislation enhancing BARDA's mission by expanding its scope to facilitate public-private research and developing countermeasures for emerging viral pathogens with pandemic potential. This legislation would pave the way for a more resilient and prepared nation.”

“If we learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that we must take public health threats seriously and take proactive steps to be prepared for the future,” said Congresswoman Susie Lee. “Right here in southern Nevada, we continue to see instances of drug-resistant infections, and this bill is an important step towards addressing this threat. I’m joining a bipartisan coalition to deliver powerful medical countermeasures to address the threats we know, and plan for those we don’t know, so we are never caught flat-footed again.” 

The legislation introduced yesterday would create a “Disease X” medical countermeasures (MCM) program for unknown viral threats with pandemic potential at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Direct BARDA to accelerate and support the advanced research, development, and procurement of countermeasures and products to address Disease X threats.
  • Allow HHS to award contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements, or enter into other transactions, to promote the development of Disease X medical countermeasures for viral families with pandemic potential.

In addition to bipartisan support in Congress, the Disease X Act of 2023 is supported by leaders and experts in academia, industry, and think tanks, including Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Infectious Diseases Society of America, CEPI U.S., Dr. Caroline Schuerger, Research Fellow, Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Dr. Steph Batalis, Research Fellow, Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Ginkgo Bioworks, Institute for Progress (IFP), Big Cities Health Coalition, FluGen Inc., US Biologic, Inc., Vir Biotechnology, The Gerontological Society of America, Global Health Technologies Coalition, Helix, New Orleans BioInnovation Center, Medical Countermeasures Coalition, 1Day Sooner, and Dr. Gregory D. Koblentz, Director, Biodefense Graduate Program, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University.

“This Act would be a major leap forward in our collective efforts to stay ahead of the ever-evolving threat landscape. The Disease X Act of 2023 empowers BARDA to invest in modern technologies that will lead to new vaccines and drugs against pandemic–capable viruses. We commend Representatives Trahan and Burgess for their vision and urge all lawmakers to unite in support of this important bill,” said Anita Cicero, Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

"Disease X is the culmination of what amounts to a conceptual shift in how the country prepares for infectious disease threats with the aim of enhancing resiliency in a truly proactive manner," said Dr. Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar and Project Director for the Disease X Medical Countermeasures Program Project at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

A digital copy of the Disease X Act of 2023 as introduced can be accessed HERE. A background summary of the Disease X Program can be found HERE. 

Trahan has been a leader on this issue as a Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Pandemic Preparedness Caucus. Locally, she has hosted discussions on pandemic preparedness with state and industry leaders. During a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing earlier this year, Trahan previewed the introduction of the Disease X Act.