The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense is calling on the federal government to urgently implement the recommendations specified in its new report, The Apollo Program for Biodefense: Winning the Race Against Biological Threats, as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in the United States and all over the world. Released widely today, the report details an ambitious program to develop and deploy the technologies needed to defend against all biological threats, empower public health, and prevent pandemics. The Commission argues if the United States acts now, this Apollo Program could effectively end the era of pandemic threats by 2030.
“While the outsized effects of COVID-19 demonstrate how vulnerable the United States is to biological threats, our response to COVID-19 also illuminates the country’s astounding potential in terms of resources, manpower, and creativity,” said Commission Co-Chair, former Senator Joe Lieberman. “The rapid creation of multiple COVID-19 vaccines speaks to that limitless potential.”
“It is our belief that with the right encouragement and policies, groundbreaking and lifesaving technologies could be American reality before the end of this decade, creating a layered and effective defense against future biological threats,” said Commission Co-Chair, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. “Now is the time for an Apollo Program for Biodefense – with the same ambition and ingenuity that put the first human on the Moon in 1969.”
To achieve the results sought in this new report, the Commission urges the Administration and Congress to include funds for The Apollo Program for Biodefense as part of a unified biodefense budget and in the President’s Budget Request; appropriate long-term, multi-year funding for the Program; and fully implement the remaining recommendations laid out in the Commission’s 2015 National Blueprint for Biodefense.
With ambitious technology goals in mind, the Commission’s recommended Program would ideally deploy medical countermeasures within days or in advance of a biological event, detect a novel biological threat at the first human cluster, and enable the public to gather in spaces built to defend against pathogen transmission. The United States must invest in innovation, achieve goals quickly, and engage and motivate America’s entrepreneurial spirit.
The full report may be accessed here.