President Trump signs off on PAHPA reauthorization
President Trump yesterday signed bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovations Act (PAHPA), which plays a crucial role in preparing the country for natural or manmade biological threats such as pandemic flu or a bioterror attack.
Funding for most programs expired in September 2018, and bills reauthorizing the law passed in the Senate on May 16 and in the House of Representatives on Jun 4. The law was first signed in 2006 by President George W. Bush and was reauthorized for the first time in 2013.
The final passage reauthorizes and improves funding for critical programs including the Biomedical Advances Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the Strategic National Stockpile with $1.2 billion annually over the next 5 years, along with $710 million annually for 10 years for the Project BioShield Special Reserve Fund, Bavarian Nordic, a federal countermeasure partner, said today in a news release. Paul Chaplin, the company's president and chief executive officer, said the 10-year authorization for Project BioShield "is unprecedented and helps to create a more sustainable framework for companies like ours to develop much needed countermeasures."
In a press release yesterday, the Alliance for Biosecurity, a biosecurity industry group, underscored the importance of the bill. Chris Frech, the group's cochair, said, "PAHPA enables long-term public-private partnerships, which are essential in safeguarding public health and building resilience against chemical and biological threats and emerging infectious diseases. Because of PAHPA, the biodefense industry is better positioned to support the United States’ robust national security strategy."
Jun 25 Bavarian Nordic press release
Jun 24 Alliance for Biosecurity press release
Jun 5 CIDRAP News story "Pandemic preparedness renewal sent to Trump's desk"
Poll finds doubts about vaccine safety amid high support for immunization
An online survey of US adults done by The Harris Poll for the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) found that 45% have doubted vaccine safety. In a press release, the AOA said the reported sources of doubt were online articles (16%), past secrets or wrongdoing by the pharmaceutical industry (16%), and information from medical experts (12%).
When asked to choose a statement that reflects their views on vaccine safety and efficacy, however, the vast majority (82%) favored vaccines, with 8% expressing serious doubts. Another 9% said they were unsure.
Members of the AOA said even small margins of people who doubt can cause significant damage if the doubts result in more unvaccinated people. Paul Ehrmann, DO, a family physician, said, "Some diseases, like measles, require as much as 95% of the population to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity."
Rachel Shmuts, DO, a perinatal psychiatrist, said humans are primed to focus on threats or negative information, so people often hold onto fears that vaccines are harmful, especially when they believe their children are in danger. She added that because vaccines have been so effective, many people fear possible vaccine side effects more than the diseases they prevent.
Though social media has fueled misinformation about vaccines, it hasn't been useful for countering the claims. "The number of people who believe vaccines are dangerous and refuse to get them is still relatively small," she said. "However, online support groups seem to solidify their beliefs, making them less susceptible to influence from their neighbors and real-world communities."
The Harris Poll conducted the online survey from May 28 to May 30 among 2,007 adults. It is not based on a probability sample, so sampling errors couldn't be calculated.
Jun 24 AOA press release