U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Conor Lamb (D-PA) introduced legislation that would require foreign nations to implement systems for reporting and monitoring outbreaks of novel diseases.
In addition, the Never Again International Outbreak Prevention Act (H.R. 7132) would sanction bad actors and review the actions of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Specifically, the bill would require the establishment of the international “sentinel surveillance” systems to collect data, identify outbreaks, and provide monitoring on the disease. Under this system, countries would be required to report all new cases within three days. The federal government would have the tools necessary to encourage foreign nations to comply with these goals and punish bad actors.
“We must hold other nations accountable for their actions that threaten and harm the livelihoods of Americans and people across the world,” Fitzpatrick said. “We must also hold organizations such as the WHO accountable for their inactions with regards to the spread of COVID-19, and ban wet markets, where COVID-19 is believed to have originated. The response and recovery to COVID-19 must be global, we must work to close the gaps in our global alert system, and work with our allies to make sure this never happens again.”
Sovereign immunity of countries that have intentionally misled the international community on pandemic would be stripped under this bill. U.S. citizens would be able to bring lawsuits against foreign nations in U.S. courts for damages.
“We cannot risk another attack on our global public health and economic well-being, and those who knowingly put our global community at risk need to be held accountable,” Lamb said. “This important legislation puts safeguards in place to ensure there is global transparency and seamless communication in the event of another outbreak, allowing us to act swiftly and in a more cohesive manner to protect Americans and our friends abroad.”
Also, this bill would require a formal investigation of the WHO’s response to COVID-19. The United States Ambassador to the United Nations would also request that the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services establish a panel with representatives from the G-20 nations to conduct a review of the WHO response to COVID-19. Additionally, the bill would ban international wet markets, where animals are sold, dead or alive, for human consumption.