SWHR Feedback to Senate HELP Committee Chair on Pandemic Preparedness Plan

Policy Engagement

Published 6/23/20

SWHR provided feedback on a white paper from Sen. Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, that recommended a six-point public health plan to minimize negative impacts from future disease pandemics.

In its letter, SWHR states that the current COVID-19 pandemic provides a stark example of why sex and gender must be critical considerations in pandemic response and preparedness. COVID-19 appears to be infecting similar numbers of women and men, but the majority of people dying from the virus are men. Moreover, COVID-19 is not the only disease outbreak in recent history that has shown clear evidence of sex and/or gender disparities.

With an eye toward appropriately addressing sex and gender in future pandemic preparedness legislation, SWHR addressed three key areas of Alexander’s plan: Tests, Treatments, and Vaccines; Disease Surveillance; and Public Health Capabilities.

Major SWHR recommendations included:

  • Requiring vaccine researchers to incorporate sex as a biological variable into research study design and to analyze results for sex differences.
  • Codifying measures that ensure appropriate inclusion of pregnant and lactating women within clinical trials related to treatment and vaccine development.
  • Providing priority vaccine access to health care workers and communities experiencing significant disease burden or who are at heightened risk of disease complications.
  • Creating and implementing a national testing strategy requiring mandatory, standardized data collection and reporting of demographic information, including sex/gender and race/ethnicity.
  • Expanding access to telehealth services on a permanent basis.

Read The Letter