Report calls for U.S. biodefense buildup

source: (contributed by FAN, Bill Amshey)  |  image:


A new report calls on all levels of government to strengthen U.S. biodefense measures and urges policymakers to codify parts of a national strategy to address an array of biological threats.

Why it matters: Threats in the form of infectious disease outbreaks, lab accidents and biology-based weapons are expected to increase in the coming years, according to the report’s authors and other experts.

  • But biodefense investments get caught in a cycle of “panic and neglect” — an intense focus for a short period, after which policymakers, funders and the public move on, the report notes.
  • “Every future administration must ensure that the National Biodefense Strategy keeps pace with the rapidly evolving and increasing biological threat,” the authors of the 2024 National Blueprint for Biodefense write.

The report was released Tuesday by the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, which was set up in 2014 with former Sen. Joe Lieberman as founding co-chair. Lieberman contributed to the report before his death this year.

“We’re not putting enough emphasis on getting ahead of these biological threats,” says Asha George, the commission’s executive director.

  • “The United States has become exceedingly good at responding to all kinds of things. But I think we’re at our limit now as a nation, as a world, and that means being really good at response is no longer good enough.”

Zoom in: The commission calls for Congress to designate the White House’s national security adviser as leader of national biodefense efforts and to establish a deputy adviser to quarterback daily duties and responsibilities.

  • We are “really calling upon the national security adviser to take charge of this. There are too many national security implications,” George says.
  • Biodefense responsibilities currently span the government, including 15 federal departments and nine independent agencies.