Threats are no longer limited to weapons of wars; they include widespread disease outbreaks. Panelists at a briefing hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) agree that pandemics pose a major threat to national security.
“Over the last 15 years, the U.S. and the world has faced anthrax, SARS, avian influenza, pandemic influenza, Ebola and Zika,” said Anand Parekh, M.D., chief medical advisor, BPC, at the forum held March 28 in Washington, D.C. “As opposed to other threats, microbes know no borders.”
“We don’t have as clear of a picture of the profound impact” of airborne pathogens, said The Hon. Tom Daschle, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and BPC cofounder. “We need exclamation points to put forth a sense of urgency and then develop a plan of action.”
The Hon. Judd Gregg referenced Project BioShield, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004, as an archetype for pandemic preparedness. The 10-year program allocated $5.6 billion to accelerate research and develop medicines to protect Americans against possible chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack. In 2013, the program was re-authorized through 2018 but its longer-term fate under Trump’s administration is unclear.
“There is no bigger threat to our nation than a biological attack or pandemic flu,” Gregg said. “This is a national security issue and once it’s presented in those terms to this Administration, we will be able to move forward.”
Click here to view a video of the event.