On August 12, 2021, In-Q-Tel (IQT) convened a virtual Roundtable meeting to examine the technologies used to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and other epidemics, to discuss what needed capabilities were missing from the Covid response, and how these critical needs might be addressed. Roundtable participants included experts drawn from several United States government (USG) agencies, academia, private-sector technology companies, and members of the IQT/B.Next team. The meeting was conducted on a not-for-attribution basis.
For over two decades, increasingly frequent and consequential outbreaks of infectious disease have demonstrated that we are living in an “age of epidemics”. It is urgent that nations become more adept, individually and collectively, at controlling disease outbreaks. While improving global preparedness requires changes in national, institutional, and individual behaviors, many of the capabilities required to respond to lethal, fast-moving epidemics are technologies which can be realized through collaboration among governments, universities and private companies.
Our collective struggle against Covid-19 has demonstrated that technologies, ranging from diagnostic tests and vaccines to personal protective equipment and contact tracing apps, are essential to the task of quenching pandemics. Yet, with a few exceptions, analyses of how technologies might enable critical pandemic management functions, and the strategies required to make such technologies widely available for this—or the next—pandemic, remain the exception, not the rule.
This paper provides background and details high-level takeaways from this important Roundtable discussion.