Today, President Joe Biden will sign National Security Memorandum-15 (NSM-15) and launch the National Biodefense Strategy and Implementation Plan to Combat Biological Threats, Improve Pandemic Preparedness and Ensure Global Health Security (The strategy).
As the president said, there are no walls high enough or oceans wide enough to keep biothreats out and protect our communities. The strategy reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s overall plan to protect our nation from future pandemics and biological threats. It outlines a bold set of goals to transform the nation’s biological defenses and health security by launching a whole-of-government effort across 20 federal agencies to detect, prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from biological incidents, in partnership with our international organization. . state, local, tribal, territorial and private sector partners. NSM-15 supports strategy execution by strengthening the coordination of biodefense efforts across government.
Infectious diseases that cross borders and disrupt societies pose a threat to our national security and global stability. 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 billions of dollars in economic losses worldwide. In addition to COVID-19, the global community is simultaneously battling epidemics of monkeypox, poliomyelitis, Ebola, highly pathogenic avian influenza and other diseases, draining scarce global resources and demonstrating gaps in our current preparedness. And the risks of weaponization of biological agents are increasing.
The United States must be prepared for outbreaks from any source – whether natural, accidental, or deliberate. Urbanization, climate change, and habitat encroachment increase the risk of disease outbreaks from animal reservoirs. Global interconnectedness is accelerating the rate at which infectious diseases spread across the world, especially when coupled with overwhelmed healthcare systems. Furthermore, the norm against the development and use of biological weapons has been challenged by state and non-state actors over the past decades.
The Administration is already implementing key actions of the Strategy with existing funding. However, fully achieving these transformational goals will require Congressional support to provide additional resources, including the President’s request for $88 billion over five years for pandemic preparedness and biodefense. The administration looks forward to working with Congress to implement this investment strategy to save trillions of dollars and millions of lives.
The Strategy aims to:
Detect pandemics and other biological threats: The strategy aims to transform early warning of infectious disease threats by accelerating the development and deployment of new technologies capable of rapidly detecting new pathogens. It will improve real-time information for decision-making by planning a sustainable all-hazards hospital data collection system, expanding platforms to integrate and share intervention data, and improving data sharing at the hospital. international scale. 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 and effective decision-making to improve outbreak response. using data, modeling and analysis.
Prevent outbreaks from becoming outbreaks and prevent biological incidents before they happen by:
- Stop epidemics at their source by strengthening global health security: The United States will help at least 50 countries better prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, while encouraging other donors and partners to support 50 additional countries. The United States will also invest in critical multilateral institutions that will further strengthen the global health architecture. The administration has already accelerated that effort by leading the charge to create a groundbreaking new Financial Intermediate Fund for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response at the World Bank. With the United States and more than 20 countries contributing $1.4 billion in seed funding, this new fund will help fill key preparedness gaps at the national, regional and global levels. The strategy also builds on USAID’s announcement earlier this year of a $150 million commitment to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to accelerate the development of life-saving vaccines and countermeasures against biological threats. The United States will continue to support and strengthen the World Health Organization, which plays a critical role in strengthening health systems around the world to better prepare for and respond to health emergencies.
- Strengthening Laboratory Biosafety and Biosecurity: The United States will work with domestic and international partners to prevent laboratory accidents by building biosafety laboratory capacity, strengthening standards of responsible conduct for biological research, and accelerating biosafety and biosecurity innovation in the United States and abroad. These efforts include galvanizing support for multilateral biosafety and biosecurity commitments and establishing international mechanisms to strengthen biosafety and biosecurity globally.
- Deterrence of Biological Weapons Use and Development: The United States will also invest in breakthrough technologies to detect and attribute the use of biological weapons, and work with foreign partners to deter use and respond decisively if biological weapons are deployed. The United States will work to strengthen international norms against traditional and new biological weapons, including through efforts under the Biological Weapons Convention to foster greater transparency among all nation states.
Prepare for pandemics and other biological incidents: The strategy aims to transform our preparedness to respond to epidemics, building on the US Pandemic Preparedness Plan: Transform our capabilities, released by the administration in 2021. The United States will work to strengthen and modernize national public health, veterinary, and phytosanitary capabilities at all levels, from rural jurisdictions to major cities, so that disease outbreaks among humans, animals and plants can be identified and controlled quickly and fairly. This effort includes recruiting, training and maintaining a strong, flexible and permanent cadre of essential critical health infrastructure workers, outbreak emergency responders, public health laboratory scientists, technicians, data quality managers and animal disease epidemiologists in our territories and in all 50 states. This strategy will also improve the coordination of evidence-based public health information campaigns across federal, state, and local governments, with the goal of reaching 80% of the U.S. population.
The Strategy also aims to meet ambitious new timelines for the development of new countermeasures following the determination of a biological incident of national or international significance (including a high consequence outbreak or potential pandemic). These goals reinforce key elements of the 100 Day Mission, which was hailed by President Biden and G7 leaders last year and catalyzes international cooperation in support of pressing global biodefense goals. Over the next 5 to 10 years, it aims to:
- Enable testing within 12 hours, perform tens of thousands of diagnostic tests within a week, and develop rapid diagnostics within 90 days;
- Develop vaccines within 100 days; make enough vaccines for the population of the United States in 130 days; and work with international partners to develop an adequate supply of vaccines for high-risk global populations within 200 days; and,
- Accelerate therapeutic development and validation to reuse existing drugs within 90 days or develop new therapies within 180 days.
Respond quickly to outbreaks when they occur: To effectively leverage these capabilities, the strategy reinforces the United States’ resolve to launch a coordinated, comprehensive, and equitable response to any significant biological incident within days. This effort includes preparing for activation of an integrated federal research program within 14 days of determination of a biological incident of national or international significance, and clinical trial infrastructure within 14 days of determination. identification of a viable countermeasure to rapidly assess vaccines, treatments and diagnostics during a response.
Recovering from a pandemic or biological incident: Finally, the strategy ensures that the federal government will be prepared to coordinate an equitable, long-term recovery strategy for any significant biological incident, in close partnership with state, local, tribal and territorial governments and communities.
To support strategy execution, the promulgation of National Security Memorandum-15 (NSM-15) on Countering Biological Threats, Enhancing Pandemic Preparedness, and Achieving Global Health Security Strengthens Coordination biodefense efforts within the federal government by:
- Centralize policy coordination oversight in the White House to ensure accountability for strategy implementation and, in doing so, bring together the strengths of all federal agencies.
- Ask departments and agencies to prioritize biodefense and the implementation of the Strategy in their annual budgets.
- Asking the intelligence community to closely monitor the evolving biological threat landscape and provide critical and potentially urgent information needed to address natural, accidental and deliberate biological threats.
- Ensure that the federal government continuously adapts to the changing threat landscape by executing annual biodefense contingency plans, reviewing ongoing responses, and regularly adjusting federal priorities to consider lessons learned.
Collectively, these efforts will help protect the American people from epidemics, pandemics, and the use of biological weapons, and they will allow us to equitably strengthen the health of our homeland.