Capitol Correspondence - 03.15.22

NIH Scientists Ask for Clarity Amid Lack of Additional COVID-19 Funding

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Congress’ failure to pass an omnibus spending bill that included the proposed $15 billion for COVID-19 relief has implications for the government’s ability to continue research on COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments. Last week after the U.S. House of Representatives removed the COVID-19 relief funds from the omnibus spending bill, scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) wrote to the agency asking for clarity on whether and how they will need to wind down ongoing trials. The scientists expressed concern over the lack of funding, which is estimated to fall more than $1 billion short of the funding needed, saying “[w]e would like to understand which March activities can be delayed, de-scoped, paused, etc. and what the consequences are of choosing this option.”

Congress will endeavor this week to pass legislation to provide additional COVID-19 relief funds, but it is unclear whether there is enough support to pass the legislation.