President Biden Launches Biodefense & Future Pandemic Preparedness Strategy

This week (October 18, 2022), President Joe Biden outlined a detailed strategy to address future pandemics and biological threats, which includes support for developing and manufacturing medical countermeasures. The National Biodefense Strategy and Implementation Plan for Countering Biological Threats, Enhancing Pandemic Preparedness, and Achieving Global Health Security sets forth a series of goals in US biodefenses and health security by launching a whole-of-government effort across 20 federal agencies to detect, prevent, prepare, respond to, and recover from biological incidents, in partnership with international, state, local, tribal, territorial, and private-sector partners.

“Infectious diseases that cross borders and disrupt societies are a threat to our national security and global stability,” said the Biden Administration in an October 18, 2022, statement. “COVID-19 is the latest example of how biological threats can devastate communities across America and around the world, resulting in millions of deaths and trillions of dollars of economic losses globally. In addition to COVID-19, the global community is concurrently fighting outbreaks of monkeypox, polio, Ebola, highly pathogenic avian influenza, and other diseases, stretching thin global resources and demonstrating gaps in our current preparedness.  And, the risks of weaponization of biological agents are expanding.”

The Biden Administration is seeking $88 billion over five years in additional funding for pandemic preparedness and biodefense. Key goals of the strategy are outlined below.

Detection of pandemics and other biological threats. The strategy aims to improve early warning of infectious disease threats by accelerating the development and deployment of new technologies that can rapidly detect novel pathogens. It will improve real-time information gathering and data sharing internationally.These efforts build on the recently launched Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, which creates the equivalent of a “national weather service” for infectious disease outbreaks, enabling rapid, effective decision-making to improve outbreak response using data, modeling, and analytics.

Prevention of pandemic and biological threats. As part of the strategy,the USwill support at least 50 countries to better prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats while encouraging other donors and partners to support an additional 50 countries. This builds on a new Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response at the World Bank. With the US and more than 20 countries contributing over $1.4 billion in seed funding at its outset, this new fund will help fill major preparedness gaps at the national, regional, and global level.

In addition, the US will work with domestic and international partners to prevent laboratory accidents by strengthening biosafety laboratory capacity, reinforce norms of responsible conduct for biological research, and accelerate biosafety and biosecurity innovation. These efforts include galvanizing support for multilateral biosafety and biosecurity commitments and establishing international mechanisms to enhance biosafety and biosecurity globally. The US will also work to strengthen international norms against traditional and novel biological weapons, including through efforts under the Biological Weapons Convention to foster greater transparency among countries.

In addition, the US will work to strengthen and modernize domestic public, veterinary, and plant health capacity to have sufficient levels of critical health infrastructure workers, outbreak emergency responders, public health laboratory scientists, technicians, data quality managers, and animal disease epidemiologists all 50 states.

Development and manufacturing of medical countermeasures. The strategy also aims to realize new timelines in the development of novel medical countermeasures following the determination of a nationally or internationally significant biological incident (including a high consequence outbreak or potential pandemic). Over the next 5-10 years, it aims to do the following:

  • Enable testing within 12 hours, surge tens of thousands of diagnostic tests within one week, and develop rapid diagnostics within 90 days;
  • Develop vaccines within 100 days; manufacture enough vaccine for the population of US within 130 days; and work with international partners to develop sufficient vaccine supply for high-risk global populations within 200 days; and
  • Accelerate therapeutic development and validation to repurpose existing drugs within 90 days or develop novel therapeutics within 180 days.

In addition, to appl these capabilities effectively, the strategy seeks to strengthens the US readiness to launch a coordinated, comprehensive, equitable response to any significant biological incident/This effort includes preparing to activate an integrated federal research agenda within 14 days of the determination of a domestically or internationally significant biological incident, and a clinical trials infrastructure within 14 days of identifying a viable countermeasure to rapidly evaluate vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics during a response.

Finally, the strategy ensures that the federal government will be prepared to coordinate a long-term, equitable recovery strategy for any significant biological incident, in close partnership with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and communities.

Source: The White House