President Joe Biden has asked for millions in taxpayer dollars to go toward “pandemic preparedness” and “global health security,” even as the origins of COVID have come under scrutiny from lawmakers in recent days.
In his proposed budget for fiscal year 2024, Biden asks for $10.9 billion to go toward “global health and health security challenges.”
“This includes over $1.2 billion to prepare for, prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks — including by expanding U.S. bilateral partnerships with countries to improve health security capacity,” Biden’s proposed budget reads.
Included in this $1.2 billion is $500 million for “the Pandemic Fund” with the purpose of increasing preparation for a pandemic on a global scale. The Pandemic Fund is an international fund run by the World Bank, with funding from across the globe. The U.S. provides more money for the fund, which was launched in November 2022, than any other country.
Last year Biden also proposed billions in funding for “pandemic preparedness,” saying that the money was needed to prepare for future threats.
“While combating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the United States must catalyze advances in science, technology, and core capabilities to prepare the Nation for the next biological threat and strengthen U.S. and global health security,” Biden’s budget said.
The proposed money for future pandemics comes as some have claimed that the U.S. funded the gain of function research that created COVID and leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China.
On Wednesday, former U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that American tax dollars funded gain of function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where he believes that the virus leaked from.
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Speaking to the House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, Redfield doubled down on his history of disputing the collective narrative that COVID transmitted from a bat to a human and further testified that scientific research indicates that one of the most infectious viruses that impacted nearly seven million lives globally likely leaked from the Chinese Communist Party run-lab in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Redfield said that he believed funding from the State Department, USAID, and the Department of Defense all went toward the gain of function research he believes led to the leak of COVID.
New statements from the Department of Energy also provide evidence for the claim that the virus could have escaped from a lab, with the department saying with “low confidence” that COVID escaped from a lab.
Brandon Drey contributed to this report.