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Wednesday, February 28th, 2024

Commission on biodefense backs Congressional efforts to improve nation’s biodefense

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The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense supports efforts by Congress to improve the country’s biodefense following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This will not be the last biological crisis this nation faces,” commission members wrote to Congressional leaders. “In addition to the potential resurgence of COVID-19 cases this fall, other naturally occurring diseases continue to mutate and work their way around the world, and both state- and non-state actors continue to invest in biological weapons programs that may well come to fruition and threaten us. It is not too early to start examining and learning from the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, and determining what the public and private sectors need to do next, even as we continue to respond to the current crisis.”

The Commission, established in 2014, is co-chaired by Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge. Tom Daschle, Jim Greenwood, Ken Wainstein, and Lisa Monaco all serve as commissioners. The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense assesses and recommends changes to U.S. policy and law to strengthen the nation’s ability to defend against infectious diseases and biological attacks.

“Our bipartisan group has spent the past six years examining ways to strengthen our defense against biological threats, and we have well-developed findings and recommendations that are directly applicable to the COVID-19 crisis,” the letter continued. “As Congress considers different mechanisms for reviewing and improving our Nation’s biodefense, we wish to make ourselves and our bipartisan work available to facilitate and expedite that effort. Each of us on the Commission and our staff would be honored to make such a contribution. We are confident that our involvement would significantly shorten the timeline by which our Nation develops the comprehensive readiness and response capacity needed to address the modern-day threat of infectious disease. We offer our Commission’s support in any way you think we can help.”

Congress has addressed a number of the Commission’s recommendations, including mandating the formulation of a National Biodefense Strategy in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

“We regret, however, that too few of our recommendations were implemented or funded, and as a result, America was no more prepared when the COVID-19 crisis hit this year than when we issued our baseline report in 2015,” they added.