The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense today unveiled A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts, a bipartisan report outlining national vulnerabilities to growing biological threats and providing recommendations on improving the U.S. biodefense posture.
“Crisis after biological crisis has forced the United States to act. Naturally occurring threats such as influenza, Ebola, and Chikungunya are bypassing borders to emerge in nations oceans away, and exact a continued toll,” states the report. “The U.S. government has mishandled extremely dangerous viruses and bacteria in some of its highest level laboratories. The Nation lacks the leadership, coordination, collaboration, and innovation necessary to respond.”
Hudson Institute hosted the Blue Ribbon Study Panel series, convening executive stakeholders throughout government, academia, and the private sector, for targeted and extensive discussion on the state of U.S. biodefense. The panels featured former administration and congressional officials, including Joseph Lieberman, Thomas Ridge, Donna Shalala, Thomas Daschle, James Greenwood and Kenneth Wainstein.
The report emphasized a lack of centralized leadership for biological threat preparedness.
“Simply put, the Nation does not afford the biological threat the same level of attention as it does other threats: There is no centralized leader for biodefense. There is no comprehensive national strategic plan for biodefense. There is no all-inclusive dedicated budget for biodefense. The Nation lacks a single leader to control, prioritize, coordinate, and hold agencies accountable for working toward common national biodefense. This weakness precludes sufficient defense against biological threats.”
Highlighted recommendations include:
- Unification of biodefense budgeting
- Establishment of a national environmental decontamination and remediation capacity
- Improved management of the biological intelligence enterprise
- Integration of animal health and One Health approaches into biodefense strategies
- Prioritization and alignment of investments in medical countermeasures among all federal stakeholders
- Implementation of an integrated national biosurveillance capability
- Increased biopreparedness resources for emergency service providers
- Minimizing redirection of Hospital Preparedness Program funds
- Provide the financial incentives hospitals need to prepare for biological events
- Establishment of a biodefense hospital system
- Hardening of pathogen and advanced biotechnology information from cyber-attacks
- Incentivizing development of rapid point-of-care diagnostics
- Review and overhaul the Select Agent Program
Read the full report: A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts.
Editor also recommends:
- US panel proposes executive biodefence office (Nature)
- The Biothreat is real — And we’re not ready, report says (NBC News)
- Blue Ribbon Panel report: United States lacking in biodefense (Washington Post)