Roadmap hones US biological preparedness

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Are U.S. policymakers and responders adequately prepared for a biological threat? A roadmap released today by the Office of Science and Technology Policy aims to make sure of just that.

The National Biosurveillance Science and Technology Roadmap identifies and prioritizes research and development needs in biosurveillance to give decision-makers and first responders the information they need to better protect the public, according to a post on the OSTP blog.

Emerging biological threats such as the H7N9 influenza virus or the coronavirus — recently found in the Middle East — exemplify how quickly such threats can spread and evolve. Biological threats can result from a variety of sources, accidental releases or exposures, intentional and unintentional. To mitigate the effects of these biological threats, biosurveillance is critical in helping predict, prevent and allay their impact.

For this reason, the interagency Biosurveillance Science and Technology Working Group created the June 17 roadmap, building upon the National Strategy for Biosurveillance of July 2012. Ingrained in the 2012 strategy is a recognition that robust national biosurveillance, providing accurate and timely information on biological threats, helps policymakers make more informed decisions and save lives.

To this end, the roadmap identifies R&D priorities essential for the implementation of the strategy, including:

  • Establishing baseline levels of community and ecosystem risks, threats and health;
  • Prioritizing R&D relating to forecasting technologies and models that consider ecological and evolutionary drivers of disease impact;
  • Developing quick, trustworthy next-generation detection and diagnostic capabilities; and
  • Creating a national, interagency data-sharing framework that amalgamates biosurveillance information from varying sources.

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Government IT News, OSTP, White House
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