NIH put only 1.8% of $42 billion budget into COVID-19 research

President Joe Biden receives a briefing from infectious diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, at the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

While the COVID-19 pandemic thrust the National Institutes of Health and directors Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins into the spotlight, the agency focused very little of its budget on the crisis.

Just 1.8% of NIH’s $42 billion budget for 2020 was spent on clinical research on COVID-19, according to a study by Johns Hopkins University, the Daily Caller reported.

A total of 5.7% was spent on COVID-19 research generally while subjects such as¬†Alzheimer’s disease, aging and behavioral and social sciences received consirably more funding.

Of the grants that went to COVID, most were focused on therapeutics, testing capacity, vaccines and treatment options. But only four grants went to study the crucial issue of airborne transmission of COVID-19, two were for studying mask efficacy and none were for examing masking for children.

The Johns Hopkins researchers their findings support criticisms of the NIH for failing to weight agency resources with “disease burden.”

“Disease burden” is about the impact of a health problem in terms of financial cost, mortality, morbidity and other indicators.

The Daily Caller said a 2011 study found that disease burden accounted for just 33% of funding level variation across 29 common diseases within the NIH budget.

A 1999 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that there was no relation between the prevalence and duration of hospitalizations for a disease and the NIH funding dedicated to it.

And there was only a weak correlation with the number of deaths and years of life lost.

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