(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brian Stippey)

Intelligence Community Works to Get Vaccinated as Assessment Warns of COVID-19 Fallout

Leaders of U.S. intelligence services reported uneven but increasing vaccination rates among the IC  workforce as the 2021 Annual Threat Assessment warned that “the economic and political aftershocks” from the COVID-19 pandemic “will be felt for years.”

“We expect COVID-19 to remain a threat to populations worldwide until vaccines and therapeutics are widely distributed,” said the intelligence community assessment, noting that “the pandemic is raising geopolitical tensions, and great powers are jockeying for advantage and influence.”

“States are struggling to cooperate — and in some cases are undermining cooperation — to respond to the pandemic and its economic fallout, particularly as some governments turn inward and question the merits of globalization and interdependence. Some governments, such as China and Russia, are using offers of medical supplies and vaccines to try to boost their geopolitical standing,” the assessment continued. “The economic fallout from the pandemic is likely to create or worsen instability in at least a few — and perhaps many — countries, as people grow more desperate in the face of interlocking pressures that include sustained economic downturns, job losses, and disrupted supply chains. Some hard-hit developing countries are experiencing financial and humanitarian crises, increasing the risk of surges in migration, collapsed governments, or internal conflict.”

The IC document also said the “pandemic is prompting shifts in security priorities for countries around the world.”

“As militaries face growing calls to cut budgets, gaps are emerging in UN peacekeeping operations; military training and preparedness; counterterrorism operations; and arms control monitoring, verification, and compliance,” it said. “These gaps are likely to grow without a quick end to the pandemic and a rapid recovery, making managing conflict more difficult—particularly because the pandemic has not caused any diminution in the number or intensity of conflicts.” In addition, “COVID-19-related disruptions to essential health services — such as vaccinations, aid delivery, and maternal and child health programs — will increase the likelihood of additional health emergencies, especially among vulnerable populations in low-income countries.”

At a Wednesday hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, FBI Director Chris Wray said he didn’t have an approximate percentage of how many agents had received vaccinations against the virus “because with us, unlike some of the other agencies, our folks are vaccinated in individual states based heavily on those states pace of rollout of the vaccination.”

“So we have some field offices where we’re close to 100 percent and we have some field offices where we’re quite a bit lower,” Wray said. “So it’s uneven, but it’s on a good trajectory.”

CIA Director Bill Burns told senators that “about 80 percent of our workforce across the world is fully vaccinated today and another 10 percent has received the first shot, the first vaccine shot.”

“But what I’ve been most focused on is, are my colleagues in the field?” he added. “And 100 percent of them today have the vaccine available to them.”

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines reported that “86 percent, I believe, of our workforce has received the first shot at least, and a fair percentage of that has been vaccinated twice.”

NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone said he didn’t know if an exact percentage of his vaccinated workforce could be given “based upon the fact that outside of Fort Meade we have, obviously, had a focus with the Department of Defense and Department of State to vaccinate our personnel.”

“Within Fort Meade, we have focused on setting up our own vaccination site and so both being a military and civilian community, we have an opportunity to not only get the vaccine off reservation but also at Fort Meade,” Nakasone said.

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier told senators that “approximately 40 to 50 percent of the DIA workforce has had at least one of the two shots and that’s exponentially increasing starting from last week to this week on Andrews Air Force Base and Joint Base Anacostia Bolling.”

“Thousands of vaccinations have come in and we’re taking advantage of that,” the DIA chief said.

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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