Media Outlets Examine U.S. Preparedness For, Vulnerabilities In Infectious Disease Outbreaks

Washington Post: Before the pandemic, top contractor received billions from government to help prepare the nation for biowarfare
“As it races to create a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the Trump administration this month announced that one of its largest pandemic-related contracts would go to a little-known biodefense company named Emergent BioSolutions. … [O]ver the past decade, the company has acquired biodefense competitors and treatments for smallpox, botulism, and other threats for which there is no market outside of government. Now, Emergent is the only maker of multiple drugs the government deems crucial for the Strategic National Stockpile, and the government is the company’s primary customer, accounting for most of its revenue, according to interviews with current and former government and company officials as well as government and corporate records. A Washington Post examination found that Emergent’s strategy has been rewarded with a series of large contracts as the Trump administration focused on biodefense over preparations for a natural pandemic. But Emergent’s dominance has fueled new risks for national health preparedness, according to documents and former government officials…” (O’Harrow et al., 6/17).

WIRED: Covid-19 Is Bad. But It May Not Be the ‘Big One’
“…Spillovers of animal pathogens into the human world—the source of flu and HIV and the virus behind Covid-19—happen on no predictable timeline. That means another pandemic could be on its way at any moment. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seemed to acknowledge as much when he told the House of Representatives at a hearing on June 4: ‘You think we weren’t prepared for this, wait until we have a real global threat for our health security.’ That expectation is leading modelers and planners to a difficult realization. Not only will the U.S. need a high-level effort to figure out what went wrong in its response to the novel coronavirus, it needs to start soon, and not wait for whenever the end of this pandemic might be. … At least five proposals to launch an [inquiry into the U.S. coronavirus response] have been circulated in the House of Representatives, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service…” (McKenna, 6/17).

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