Building an effective defense against biological threats: the Technology Advantage

Tara O’Toole M.D., MPH

The United States faces significant and growing national security threats from increasingly frequent and disruptive natural epidemics of infectious disease and potentially from covert biological weapons attacks on civilian populations. Strategic adoption of existing and emerging biotechnologies, and use of digital communications and analytical tools could greatly improve epidemic detection and management. Specifically, the United States needs to:

  • Harness the growing power of biotechnology to rapidly design and test diagnostics and vaccines fast enough to combat an outbreak and to enable manufacture of such countermeasures at scale; and
  • Integrate already available digital technologies and analytical capabilities into public health practice.

Implemented and resourced appropriately, a national technology strategy for biodefense could significantly enhance the Nation’s ability to defend against potentially existential biological threats.

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