ASM Praises Inclusion of Tracking Pathogens Act in Draft Legislation

Feb. 4, 2022

ASM and partnering scientific organizations thanked the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for including the Tracking Pathogens Act in the Committee's PREVENT Pandemics Act Discussion Draft. The Tracking Pathogens Act (S.3534), sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), builds on funding provided for COVID-19 genomic sequencing and surveillance and seeks to strengthen pathogen genomics for the future.

Supporting and advancing pathogen genomics surveillance and sequencing across the field is a top priority for ASM. ASM played a key role in assisting Sen. Baldwin in building support for the legislation, which also sets an authorization level of $175 million per year for the CDC Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) program for the next few years. 

"The bill charts a course for supporting AMD as we move beyond COVID-19 by strengthening public health partnerships with academia, clinical and independent laboratories and training the workforce of the future. This will ensure that in the future, cutting edge technology will continue to be deployed on the front lines of public health,” said ASM CEO Stefano Bertuzzi, Ph.D.

On February 4,  ASM, with support of partner organizations, sent the following letter of thanks to the HELP Committee:

Dear Chair Murray and Ranking Member Burr:

The undersigned organizations, institutions and companies representing a broad range of scientific, public health and clinical professionals, write to express our support for S. 3534, the Tracking Pathogens Act, and thank you for incorporating this bill text into Title II, Section 212 of the PREVENT Pandemics Act discussion draft under consideration in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Significantly boosting U.S. genetic surveillance and viral sequencing is key to moving beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and effectively responding to future challenges not only associated with novel and evolving infectious diseases, but also seasonal threats, antimicrobial resistance and foodborne pathogens.

The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant underscores the need for sustained investments to bolster sequencing capacity to identify, track and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 strains. We are especially pleased that the bill builds on the work initiated under the American Rescue Plan by supporting and enhancing existing genomic sequencing and surveillance activities, supporting continued partnerships between public health entities and the broader academic research and clinical laboratory ecosystem, and codifying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Centers of Excellence in Genomic Sequencing and Molecular Epidemiology. The bill also ensures this work can be sustained by setting forth a strong, multi-year funding authorization level of $175 million for the Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) program at the CDC. This investment, which will ensure that we are far better prepared for future outbreaks, is long overdue.

Since 2014, the AMD program has employed next generation sequencing (NGS) to bring the concept of precision medicine to bear for “precision public health.” AMD has given us new tools to detect disease faster, identify outbreaks sooner, and protect people and the food supply from emerging and evolving disease threats. The Tracking Pathogens Act will ensure that this critical work can continue now and into the future.

We thank you for your leadership and support for Senator Baldwin’s and Senator Cassidy’s Tracking Pathogens Act, an important provision of the HELP Committee’s bipartisan PREVENT Pandemics Act discussion draft. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues to sustain robust pathogen genomic surveillance through CDC’s AMD program and its partnerships.

Author: ASM Advocacy

ASM Advocacy
ASM Advocacy is making it easy and providing opportunities for members to advocate for evidence-based scientific policy.