Health Security Today – 27 Feb 2020

Health Security Today is a summary of the insights from Global Biodefense on pathogens and preparedness for public health emergencies. Subscribe here to receive Health Security Today updates and the Global Biodefense Magazine — delivered right to your inbox.




Schumer Proposes $8.5 Billion in Emergency Coronavirus Funding

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today released a detailed proposal for $8.5 billion in emergency funding in Emergency Funding for CDC, the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, USAID, and NIH to fight the spread of coronavirus. READ MORE

Permanent Funding Mechanism for Public Health Emergencies Introduced in New Legislation

A bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators introduced legislation which would provide automatic funding for the existing Public Health Emergency Fund in section 319 of the Public Health Service Act based on a formula that is similar to the budget authority provided for FEMA. READ MORE

Azar Defends Delay on Funding Request

“Three weeks ago was just two weeks into even knowing about this virus, which we’ve been very transparent briefing and working with you on. One can’t know the contours or nature of the disease or the progression to even know what to request at that point and what that would involve.” READ MORE

Gov. Cuomo Calls for Federal Government to Approve Coronavirus Testing at NYC Public Health Lab, Wadsworth State Lab

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a $40 million appropriation for the New York State Department of Health to hire additional staff, procure equipment and any other resources necessary to respond to the potential novel coronavirus pandemic. READ MORE

Senator Murray Grills Secretary Azar on Coronavirus Funding, Status of Diagnostic

At an Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Feb. 25, Senator Murray grilled Secretary Azar on the Administration’s lack of novel coronavirus preparedness and their “very small, unspecified” supplemental funding request and roll-out of a COVID-19 diagnotic.”Mr. Secretary, I’m out of time, but I’m told the diagnostic doesn’t work.READ MORE


University of Queensland COVID-19 Vaccine Goes Into Test Production

UQ researchers have been working around the clock to advance a vaccine for COVID-19 utilizing their ‘molecular clamp’ technology, one of only three CEPI-backed vaccine rapid response technology platforms. READ MORE

Tulane National Primate Research Center Launches Coronavirus Research Program

Tulane researchers will develop a nonhuman primate model to study the disease’s clinical progression, how it is transmitted and how it specifically affects aging populations. READ MORE

FDA Details Steps to Ensure Oversight of Imported Products During Outbreak

Import screening, examinations, sampling, import alerts, relying on a firm’s previous compliance history, and information from foreign governments as part of mutual recognition agreements round out the tools at the FDA’s disposal for assessing products entering this country. READ MORE


Invasive Species and the Wicked Risks of Biosecurity

The cane toad, brown marmorated stink bug, plant disease Xyllela fastidiosa, red imported fire ants, the tramp ant… the list goes of invasive species goes on. As our world becomes increasingly connected, the only way we can manage the risk of invasive pests is ensuring an effective biosecurity system. READ MORE



First Case of Possible Community Transmission of COVID-19 Reported in U.S

A person in California who was not exposed to anyone known to be infected with the coronavirus, and had not traveled to countries in which the virus is circulating, has tested positive for the infection. Community spread would represent a significant shift in the battle against the virus. READ MORE

Facing the Hard Facts of This Unfolding Pandemic

Governments should be conducting COVID-19 preparedness drills in local hospitals and expand hospitals’ temporary capacity, for example, by setting up emergency tents in parking lots. To minimize the strain on overstressed acute-care hospitals, supportive nursing care might have to be provided in makeshift facilities and patients’ homes. READ MORE

Local Health Departments Race to Track Thousands of Americans Amid Coronavirus

In California alone, the department of public health has been monitoring more than 6,700 returning travelers from China, while health officials in Washington State have tracked about 800, and officials in Illinois more than 200. READ MORE


The Case for Better Agroterrorism Preparedness

Although scholars and policymakers largely agree that agroterrorism has much lower costs and technical barriers than bioterrorism with a human pathogen, there is a disagreement over whether an attack of any significant scale is technically feasible for terrorist groups. READ MORE


Why Is a U.S. Biotech Making Synthetic Vaccinia Virus?

The biosecurity community had a whole lot to say when a researcher backed by Tonix Pharmaceuticals synthesized horsepox virus, based on a strain that had been considered extinct for decades. But when the company announced this January that it had successfully synthesized vaccinia, no one seemed to take note. READ MORE


The Administration is Setting Up the U.S. to Botch a Pandemic Response

While it’s true that America has long been under-prepared for a pandemic, the risks right now appear to be especially high. Health officials in the US are perpetually doing the “the looming-health-disaster money scramble” each time a big outbreak rears its head. READ MORE


Ancient Pathogens of Past Plagues Tell a Vivid Tale

One of the pioneers of the field of microbial archaeology is geneticist Johannes Krause, and his team published a paper tracing the spread of the Black Death, which killed half the European population — 30 million to 50 million people — in less than five years, starting in 1347. READ MORE



U.S. Ebola Treatment Center Costs and Sustainability if Federal Funding Withdrawn

The 2020 expiration of Hospital Preparedness Program funds threatens the existence of the tiered network of facilities to manage patients with Ebola virus disease (EVD) or other highly hazardous communicable diseases (HHCDs). It is unknown if—and for how long—many Ebola Treatment Centers could maintain capabilities solely with internal financial support, or if the United States will revert to the level of HHCD preparedness before 2014. READ MORE


De-isolating COVID-19 Suspect Cases: A Treatment Algorithm

Clinicians from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) emphasize in this correspondence that no single indicator may be effectively used to decide on de-isolation of a suspect case. One suspect case only returned positive on the fifth repeated sample (nasopharyngeal swab), on the seventh day of clinical illness. READ MORE

Cell Entry and Receptor Usage for SARS-CoV-2

Researchers detail a rapid and cost-effective platform with which to functionally test large groups of related viruses for zoonotic potential, showing that host protease processing during viral entry is a significant barrier for several lineage B viruses and that bypassing this barrier allows several lineage B viruses to enter human cells through an unknown receptor. READ MORE


Tool Monitors Flu Mutations in Real Time

This study highlights a promising new tool for virologists to study the behavior of influenza A, as well as any other RNA viruses, in host cells and to identify the external conditions or cell properties affecting them. READ MORE


Trial Shows Two Drugs Not Better Than One When Treating MRSA

Results in this trial showed that although MRSA was killed more quickly with combination antibiotic treatment, this did not translate to fewer deaths. Surprisingly, combination treatment led to more episodes of kidney injury. READ MORE


Characterising Viable H1N1 Virus from Air Exhaled Infected Ferrets

Using a novel technique of direct viral plaque isolation, researchers isolate and characterise infectious virus from droplets emitted by 2009 pandemic H1N1-infected ferrets, demonstrating that infectious virus is predominantly released early after infection. READ MORE


CEPI-EDCTP Seeks Proposals for Lassa Virus Vaccines

Applications are invited for large-scale collaborative projects which include one or more clinical trials (Phase II to III) aiming to accelerate the clinical development of Lassa candidate vaccines. Deadline: 7 April 2020 READ MORE

JLABS @ Washington DC Seeks Innovations for Pediatric Influenza Interventions

This QuickFire Challenge supports pediatric-focused innovations in influenza; novel solutions for influenza vaccine delivery; and influenza pre-exposure including antivirals prophylaxis formulation. In addition to grant money, awardees receive access to JLABS equipment and expert mentorship at JLABS Washington DC. Deadline: 24 April 2020 READ MORE

Outbreak Science Summer Fellow at CDC

Applicants should be senior graduate students or early career PhDs with interest in using infectious diseases modeling to support outbreak response. Paid position. Deadline: 10 March READ MORE >>


Links to resources, articles and opportunities that caught our attention this week.

+ Mar 16-17: IABS-CEPI Vaccine Technology Platforms Meeting

+ COVID-19: Guidance for Health Professionals (updated 25 Feb) GOV.UK

+ COVID-19 Vaccine Development Programs BioCentury

+ CDP Coronavirus training material now available Center for Domestic Preparedness

+ Plan your National Public Health Week Events APHA

+ Coronavirus News and Resources for Global Health Researchers NIH Fogarty International Center

+ So You Think You’re About to Be in a Pandemic? Virology Down Under

+ Did Trump Fire the US Pandemic Response Team? Snopes

+ Overview of U.S. Domestic Response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus – Congressional Research Service

+ Disaster Epidemiology Technical Assistance CDC

Need to contact Global Biodefense? Email us at A story’s inclusion in the Health Security Today newsletter or Global Biodefense Magazine does not imply endorsement.

Schumer Proposes $8.5 Billion in Emergency Coronavirus Funding

Bioterrorism & Biodefense

Belarus Man Indicted for Mailing Ricin and Threats to Pelican Bay State Prison