Guest view: We can't rely on China for virus care
GUEST VIEW

Guest view: We can't rely on China for virus care

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Now is the time to put politics aside and come together as a nation to beat this pandemic. In the face of adversity, Americans have always stepped up to the challenge.

Over the past several months, we witnessed a once booming economy come to a halt as the world responded to the COVID-19 outbreak. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs. Tens of thousands of Americans have died due to COVID-19.

The road ahead of us is tough, but I have faith in the ingenuity of American innovation to help us find drugs to cure and prevent COVID-19.

As our nation’s top scientists are working on a solution, I have been vocal in Congress at addressing the root of this global pandemic.

China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak is a stark reminder that we cannot rely on foreign nations for our medical supplies and drug manufacturing needs. The Chinese Communist Party’s reckless actions to downplay and lie about the severity of this virus has changed the lives of every American.

It’s long overdue we end our reliance on China to produce our medical supply equipment like personal protective equipment and life-saving drugs. Over 70 percent of our PPE and over one-third of our antibiotics are imported from China. Being dependent on China is a threat to our national health and national security.

America will be safer and stronger when we bring our pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing supply chains and jobs back to America.

During the oil crisis of the 1970s, our reliance on foreign oil crippled our economy and compromised our national security. In response to that crisis, we focused our energy production back on America. With American innovation, we are the world’s leading producer of oil.

With this current pandemic, we’re being reminded that we cannot lead from behind in the medical supplies and pharmaceutical drugs market. We must bring those jobs back to America and let American workers lead the way.

I’ve taken swift action to put America first and lead the efforts in Congress to support Made in America manufacturing and jobs.

I authored the provision and secured the necessary funding to safely accelerate the development and manufacturing of drugs and vaccines to treat and prevent coronavirus. By dual tracking the development and manufacturing of these critical drugs, what is known nationally as “Operation Warp Speed,” we will help get these drugs into the hands of Montanans and Americans quickly. I worked with top scientists at the National Institutes of Health, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and the Food and Drug Administration to get the funding and flexibility they needed, and I’m pleased to say companies are already well on their way to finding effective drugs to prevent and treat this virus.

Just last month, I visited the University of Montana’s research lab, where I announced that $2.5 million would be directed to a team of researchers there to accelerate the research and development of a COVID-19 vaccine right here in Montana.

I’m also fighting to roll back our reliance on China and provide the necessary tax incentives to promote growth and innovation in our private sector to strengthen our medical supply chain and bring drug manufacturing jobs back to America.

I believe we need to prevent future crises like this by imposing sanctions on foreign officials who distort and mishandle information about pandemics that could harm public health, just like China did in their role to cover-up the coronavirus. I have also called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to lead an international effort to thoroughly investigate the origins of this outbreak and China’s related actions so that we can take steps to prevent a similar pandemic from occurring again.

Americans in times of crisis have always answered the call of duty to serve their fellow citizens. I have seen the kindness, bravery, and determination of our health care heroes and first responders to help those most in need, our small businesses have donated their resources to produce life-saving equipment for our health care heroes, and our teachers have gone out of their way to educate students remotely. The nation’s top medical experts and scientists, including our very own at the University of Montana, have stepped up to the challenge of finding a cure to treat and prevent the coronavirus.

As a member of President Trump’s task force to reopen our nation, we are working to safely reopen and re-start our economy and every step of the way, I will be a voice for all Montanans hurt by this pandemic. I spent 28 years in the private sector solving problems and creating jobs, and I will use these skills to help rebuild our economy, provide support to our small businesses and get Montanans back to work.

Make no mistake, China will answer for their cover-up and the days of the United States being overly dependent on them for drug and medical supplies manufacturing is coming to an end. We will bring these jobs back to America, and I won’t stop fighting until we do.

As a nation, we are coming together in this crisis and together we will come out of it stronger, more prepared and ready to lead.

Steve Daines of Bozeman, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Montana.

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