2018 National Biodefense Strategy

On September 18, 2018, President Trump unveiled the 2018 National Biodefense Strategy, designed to protect the American people from all types of biological threats. According to the President, the strategy builds “a more resilient and effective biodefense enterprise” by drawing on lessons learned from biological incidents – epidemics, pandemics, and deliberate attacks –  in recent history. Such incidents include the 2001 anthrax attacks, the 2009 influenza pandemic, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic, and the Zika virus outbreak. In his Presidential Statement on the National Biodefense Strategy and National Security Presidential Memorandum, President Trump said,

Biological threats emanate from many sources, and they know no borders. They have great potential to disrupt the economy, exact a toll on human life, and tear at the very fabric of society.

Robert P. Kadlec, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response echoed this sentiment, saying,

Whether a natural outbreak, an accidental release, or a deliberate attack, biological threats are among the most serious we face, with the potential for significant health, economic and national security impacts.  Therefore, promoting our health security is a national security imperative.

As stated in the 2018 National Biodefense Strategy, there are “five goals with associated objectives for
strengthening the biodefense enterprise,” which will establish “a layered risk management approach to countering biological threats and incidents.” The five goals are as follows:

  1. Enable risk awareness to inform decision-making across the biodefense enterprise.
  2. Ensure biodefense enterprise capabilities to prevent bioincidents.
  3. Ensure biodefense enterprise preparedness to reduce the impacts of bioincidents.
  4. Rapidly respond to limit the impacts of bioincidents.
  5. Facilitate recovery to restore the community, the economy, and the environment after a bioincident.

A series of objectives and concrete actions to facilitate actualization follows each of the five aforementioned goals. A succinct table in the body of the Strategy presents a summary of this information, while Annex I, the National Biodefense Strategy Implementation Plan, reveals more detail on the concrete actions planned. In addition to a Goals and Objectives section, the Strategy also contains sections on Vision, Purpose, Threats and Consequences, Biological Risk Management, Assumptions, and Governance, as well as a Conclusion, the aforementioned Annex, and two additional Annexes on Definitions (Annex II) and Scope, Statutory Requirements, and Agencies (Annex III).

The Strategy concludes by saying,

The risks from biological threats cannot be reduced to zero – but they can and must
be managed. Wide-ranging threats require a comprehensive approach to
minimizing the risks. Through this National Biodefense Strategy, the United States
Government will optimize its own efforts, and harness the work of essential
partners—inside government and outside, domestically and internationally—to
understand, prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the full range of
biological threats that can harm the American people and our partners.

For more resources on Biodefense and Biological Incidents, check out the links to those subjects. You may also be interested in resources related more specifically to bioterrorism and biological weapons, as well as our Featured Topic on Pandemics and Epidemics. Please note that an HSDL login is required to view some of the aforementioned resources.

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