ASM Applauds $1.75 Billion for Viral Sequencing in the American Rescue Plan Act Passed by the House
The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) strongly supports provisions to bolster genomic surveillance and sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 included in H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act passed by the House of Representatives. The inclusion of $1.75 billion for CDC’s Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) program, and related provisions to support public health infrastructure, training, and expand existing partnerships to conduct this work, is critical if we are to get ahead and stay ahead of the emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. ASM also supports the additional resources included the bill for COVID-19 testing, for vaccine distribution and for research relief to grants funded by the National Science Foundation.
“Funding for CDC’s AMD program is key to ensuring that the U.S. is a leader in sequencing SARS-CoV-2 variants and tackling the pandemic,” said ASM CEO Dr. Stefano Bertuzzi. “As new variants emerge, we need this sequencing capacity to identify, track and mitigate the impact of these new strains.”
ASM is a leading advocate for greater investment in pathogen genomics and advanced molecular detection (AMD). We commend the leadership of Representatives Ami Bera and Scott Peters, who have championed this effort. Bera and Peters introduced H.R. 791, the Tracking COVID-19 Variants Act, the provisions of which are reflected in the final bill.
AMD technology has and will continue to play a pivotal role in identifying and understanding new genetic strains of SARS-CoV-2 so that we can respond most effectively. Amidst the growing COVID-19 public health crisis, the AMD program established the SPHERES Consortium to bring the public and private sectors together to enable SARS-CoV-2 surveillance, sequencing, tracking and tracing. The work of this program also informs vaccine development and will help researchers monitor genetic changes in SARS-CoV-2 going forward as the population is immunized.
The funding and support for genomic surveillance and sequencing in the bill is a real investment that will not only help us continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, but also foster important collaborations among the public health, academic research and private sector scientific communities to meet the moment. ASM looks forward to serving as a bridge between public health labs and private sector partnerships in this “all-hands-on-deck” approach to genomic sequencing.