“The budgetary insecurity from which the new agency on emerging infectious diseases will suffer can only be harmful”

Tribune. 1is January 2021, the National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS) and the REACTing consortium, acting on emerging diseases, were officially merged to create the “ANRS emerging infectious diseases”. This project, which bears the mark of France’s excellence in the field of research and in particular research against HIV and its achievements, aims to both animate, coordinate and finance research. about these diseases. With the objective, in particular, of preparing in times of “peace” responses adapted to times of crisis and to be able, when the time comes, to deploy them in an immediate and coordinated manner.

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The establishment of an agency dedicated to the fight against infectious diseases is excellent news for the actors involved and the people concerned, but the funding provided today is insufficient. We, researchers, health professionals and associative actors, are worried about the lack of budgetary anticipation of the executive which will not allow, as it stands, to meet the stated ambitions. For an effective and rapid response to current and future epidemics, this new agency requires, according to conservative estimates, 76 million euros in state subsidies from 2021, or 36 million more than the envelope from which the ANRS benefited. for research on AIDS and hepatitis in 2020.

Lack of political preparation

Of these 36 million euros, only 2 million euros have been provided for in the 2021 budget, suggesting that the rest will have to be found through exceptional funding or public / private partnerships. However, we know, and the current crisis reminds us daily, the importance of public research in the anticipation and access to health policies favorable to populations. These approximations in the budgetary construction of this new agency suggest a lack of political preparation which challenges us in several ways.

The financial commitments requested are, however, derisory, compared to the efforts made – and necessary – by other countries: in Germany, 105 million euros are committed each year for research into infectious diseases (Robert-Koch Institute annual budget, January 2021), in the United States, more than 5 billion dollars (more than 4.11 billion euros. Budget annuel moyen du National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, janvier 2021)! Another point of comparison, the requested budget increase corresponds to a day of aid to companies in France in the context of the health crisis.

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