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WASHINGTON — A top Food and Drug Administration official wants Congress to dedicate full-time staff to emerging pathogens, after the FDA scrambled to find people for Covid-19 priorities like Operation Warp Speed.

“Vaccines were a pretty heavy duty lift during the pandemic,” said Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, at a Thursday Politico event. “Rather than having to essentially reassign whole groups of people and disrupt things, the idea is to have a group of people who are constantly working on this.”


There is reason for optimism. Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and Ted Budd (R-N.C.) successfully added an amendment creating that team to a key pandemic preparedness bill that must be reauthorized by the end of September. It would establish this new program within Marks’ division of the FDA, staffed with experts on vaccines, antibodies, diagnostic tests, personal protective equipment, and other medical countermeasures. Among other activities, this team would enhance surveillance programs and prioritize vaccine research and development so that existing platforms can be retooled to fight other viruses.

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