After the COVID-19 coronavirus mowed down over a million people in the United States, US President Joe Biden launched a plan on Tuesday to combat biological threats and prepare for the next pandemic.
Biden signed three biodefense security documents aimed at developing a strategy and an implementation plan for the next time a virus spreads widely in the United States.
According to the White House’s National Biodefense Strategy, the United States must address the “accidental release of biological agents, as well as threats posed by terrorist groups or adversaries seeking to use biological weapons.”
A memorandum signed by Biden establishes a policy coordination structure for biodefense among government agencies, with White House oversight.
It instructs the US intelligence community to monitor for threats and ensure that the US “continuously adapts to this evolving threat landscape” through annual exercises, according to a senior administration official who described the new plan.
The plan calls for Congress to approve a $88 billion request for pandemic preparedness and biodefense over a five-year period. The request has been stalled in Congress due to partisan disagreements over government spending.
The goal is to “prevent epidemics and biological incidents before they occur, whether naturally occurring, deliberate, or accidental,” according to the official.
The origins of the coronavirus have never been fully resolved. Despite Beijing’s denials, the US suspects that the virus originated in China.
According to the official, the plan aims to “recruit, train, and sustain a robust, permanent cadre of health workers in all 50 states” to combat biological threats.