"Infectious disease emergencies can arise with little notice and have serious detrimental and lasting effects on health and society. In the past century, we have seen global emergencies like the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed 50-100 million people; the emergence of the deadly SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] and MERS [Middle East respiratory syndrome] coronaviruses; and the 2013-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which resulted in more than 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths and had devastating impacts on that region, as just a few examples. As a subset of infectious disease emergencies, global catastrophic biological risk (GCBR) is a special category of risk involving biological agents--whether naturally emerging or reemerging, deliberately created and released, or laboratory-engineered and escaped--that could lead to sudden, extraordinary, widespread disaster beyond the collective capability of national and international organizations and the private sector to control. While rare, the risks of severe pandemics and GCB [global catastrophic biological] events are increasing because of factors like climate change, population growth and urbanization, and rapid affordable global travel. In addition, advances in biotechnology that enable easier and more targeted manipulation of biology increase the chances that microbes may be misused or will become the accidental cause of a pandemic. Yet, while biotechnology does pose some societal risk, investment in the technologies described here, and others, is also an important component in helping to safeguard the world from a devastating biological event. When applied thoughtfully, technology can improve our ability to recognize and address emerging biological problems."
2018 by Johns Hopkins University
Center for Health Security: http://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/