The federal government authorized unprecedented emergency spending to address a public health risk that was not well understood during the COVID-19 pandemic’s first year.
However, the Federal Government’s Agency for Public Health Threats was slow in responding.
In reality, only 2 percent of 56,000 National Institutes of Health grants for 2020 were awarded to COVID-19-related projects. This despite the fact that the virus has claimed thousands of lives and ravaged the world economy. This is the conclusion from a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Penn State University. It has been published but not peer-reviewed. The BMJA British medical journal, The.
Researchers conclude that “in the first year after the pandemic,” the NIH diverted a portion of its budget for COVID-19-related research. Future health emergencies will demand that research funding be redirected in a prompt manner and the funding level adjusted to reflect the expected burden of disease on the population.
Only 5.3 per cent of the $42 Billion budget allocated by the NIH in 2020 for COVID-19 research was spent on the 1,108 grants. The 2020 budget for the NIH included significantly more funds dedicated to behavioral and social sciences research than it did coronaviruses. Rare diseases research received 2.5 times the funding of coronavirus research while research into aging was more than doubled.
COVID-19 Research that Was It took some time to receive approval for funding. The average approval time by the NIH for COVID projects was 151 days. Most funding wasn’t delivered until the end of the year, according to researchers.
Researchers argue that the lack of funding in clinical trials to study COVID-19 transmission could have led to politicization. Medical professionals did not have the answers to some basic questions in the early 2020s. These included how and when the virus is spread, which individuals are the most infectious, as well as whether masks prevent people from getting or spreading it. Political opinions were able to fill the gap in the absence of scientific evidence.
This study raises serious concerns about how fast the bureaucracy of public health can respond to emerging crises. For years, the NIH was frequently criticized by figures like Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) For funding studies that are not useful. fed cocaine to Japanese quailnicotine to Zebrafish. However, when Donald Trump suggested reducing the NIH budget to $4.5Billion in 2019, its defenders worried about the possibility of losing future “ideas or breakthroughs” generated by those grants.
COVID-19 provided a unique opportunity for the NIH and its staff to demonstrate their value in real life. Like the other aspects of America’s public health bureaucracy—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration—the NIH seems to have failed that test.
A private-sector initiative that was created from scratch during the outbreak of the pandemic was capable to spend $50 million on COVID-19 research for 2020. Fast Grants were a collaborative effort of Tyler Cowen who is an economist at George Mason University and Patrick Collison who co-founded Stripe, an online payments platform. Patrick Hsu was an academic at University of California, Berkeley. Nature In August 2021, it was reported that 67% of grant recipients said their research would not have been possible without fast grants. About one third also stated that the grant accelerated their work by several months.
The Fast Grant application was designed for speed. It took less than one hour to complete and funding decisions were made within two days. Money was delivered in one week.
This is in sharp contrast to the timeline of NIH grants. The institutional response has been prompt from the very beginning. [to COVID-19]Cowen, Collison and Hsu wrote that their research had been “lethargic” in a blog review of the project published June 20, 21. “We found that scientists—among them the world’s leading virologists and coronavirus researchers—were stuck on hold, waiting for decisions about whether they could repurpose their ExistingThis disaster is requiring funding.
They emphasized the requirement that NIH grants applications undergo three stages of review by up to 20 scientists. A long process of reviewing a grant application for a project which gives rise to birds does not cause harm. However, the COVID-19 pandemic needed a faster response than was possible because of creaky government bureaucracies. It is hard for such bodies as the NIH and other government agencies to change with the times,” they concluded.
Johns Hopkins research and Penn State seem to back up what Cowen, Collison and Hsu saw as the pandemic hit. It is likely that the failure of the public health bureaucracy to respond quickly to this once-in-a generation crisis slowed critical research and left scientists in the dark as to how coronavirus spreads. This allowed misinformation to flourish.
We could have followed the science—if only the bureaucrats weren’t getting in the way.