Voters want better pandemic preparedness

Visualization of the coronavirus causing COVID-19 (Unsplash/Fusion Medical Animation)

The lessons of COVID-19 were unequivocal: Pandemic preparedness is key to national security. According to a national poll conducted by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and Healthcare Ready, in conjunction with Wakefield Research, voters on both sides of the aisle understand just how important it is for the U.S. to be ready for the next pandemic. Because the next pandemic is not a matter of if, but when.

Overwhelming bipartisan voter support for pandemic preparedness

The poll’s findings were enlightening, to say the least. The survey, which was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 U.S. likely voters, between February 28th and March 8th, 2023, via email invitation and an online survey found that:

  • 95% of respondents believe that “the federal government should prepare for a wide variety of potential public health emergencies.”
  • 92% of respondents agree that “the lessons learned from the last pandemic should be incorporated into our national preparedness efforts for the next public health emergency.”
  • 90% of respondents agree that “the federal government should expand long-term preventive measures to help avoid any future pandemics.”

And the opinions held by voters are not split along party lines. The survey also found that more than 8 in 10 voters believe it’s “extremely” or “very” important for the federal government to prioritize funding for public health emergency preparedness. Additionally:

  • More than two-thirds (71%) of voters want the federal government to increase funding for public health preparedness rather than maintain or decrease it because current spending levels are too low (50% say the federal government is spending too little, 17% say too much, 33% say about right).
  • Nearly 8 in 10 voters (77%) say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports funding for public health preparedness.

“Fully funding preparedness isn’t just an issue of public health—it’s one of national security and economic stability,” said Healthcare Ready’s Executive Director Tom Cotter, MPH, said in a statement. “And it is an issue that Americans overwhelmingly support. The poll confirms that American voters, on both sides of the aisle, want to see their representatives devote substantial federal efforts and resources to ensure we’re prepared for the next public health crisis. Congress has an opportunity to bring that peace of mind to those they serve.”

Long-term planning in policymakers’ hands

Public health is part-and-parcel of the pandemic preparedness, and voters fundamentally understand the value of good public health not just for communities, but for the country as a whole. According to the study, “Ninety-two percent of voters agree that ‘the ability to effectively prevent public health emergencies is a crucial part to maintaining U.S. national security.’”

With the information and power at hand, it’s now time for policymakers to take major steps towards long-term pandemic preparedness. As BIO’s Phyllis Arthur explains, “The data confirms that Americans see the importance of preparing today for future public health crises.”

She continues, “Congress has an immediate opportunity to get ahead of these crises—and safeguard American interests in the process—as lawmakers review the president’s requested public health preparedness budget and work to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act. We hope Congressional leaders hear voters’ concerns and move to fully fund U.S. public health, national security, and economic stability for decades to come.”

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