U.S. Falls Dangerously Short on Biodefense

In late 2014, the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense was convened to assess U.S. biodefense efforts. Yesterday, they released the National Blueprint for Biodefense. The conclusion was that the United States is “dangerously vulnerable to a biological event” and that the biodefense effort lacks “strong centralized leadership at the highest level of government.” The panel was co-chaired by former Secretary of Homeland Security Thomas Ridge and former Senator Joseph Lieberman. Additional panel members were former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Congressman James Greenwood, and former Homeland Security Advisor the President George W. Bush, Kenneth Wainstein.

The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense interviewed various experts on defense, intelligence, policy, and science to assess the current status of America’s prevention, deterrence, preparedness, detection, response, attribution, recovery, and mitigation activities. The panel “found serious gaps and inadequacies that continue to leave the Nation vulnerable to threats from nature and terrorists alike.” The report makes a total of 33 recommendations which are divided into three temporal categories: Short Term (1 year or less), Medium Term (1-3 years), and Long Term (3-5 years).

Despite the U.S. spending almost $80 billion on biodefense between 2001 and 2014, the panel found glaring gaps in coordination, cooperation, and communication between a myriad of biodefense efforts. The panel’s report states, “The Nation lacks the leadership, coordination, collaboration, and innovation necessary to respond.” The report goes on to say, “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.”

The full report with all 33 recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense can be found here on the HSDL.

The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense website can be found here.

Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/u-s-falls-dangerously-short-on-biodefense