The National Security Council (NSC) just released the US National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats (PDF), a framework for US Government planning efforts in support of the overall National Biodefense Strategy that dates back to 2003-2004.
I don’t need to tell you that biological threats, natural or man-made, are an international issue, so, the strategy provides a broad approach. While placing significant emphasis on acts of bio-terrorism, it intends to reduce biological threats by (my emphasis):
(1) improving global access to the life sciences to combat infectious disease regardless of its cause; (2) establishing and reinforcing norms against the misuse of the life sciences; and (3) instituting a suite of coordinated activities that collectively will help influence, identify, inhibit, and/or interdict those who seek to misuse the life sciences.
Going on, it identifies roles and responsibilities and provides seven main objectives (PROTECT):
- Promote global health security
- Reinforce norms of safe and responsible conduct
- Obtain timely and accurate insight on current and emerging risks
- Take reasonable steps to reduce the potential for exploitation
- Expand our capability to prevent, attribute, and apprehend
- Communicate electively with all stakeholders
- Transform the international dialogue on biological threats
So, how do we balance our resources toward a bio-terror threat versus that of naturally occurring disease? Furthermore, are we looking at the issue in a holistic sense? Lastly, how will open government and/or technology play a role in the future of bio-threat reduction?