Expert warns that improvement needed on U.S. biodefense

Emergent BioSolutions Inc., held a workshop on bioterrorism on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., including an overview on the U.S. approach to bioterrorism prevention led by Dr. Bob Kadlec.
Kadlec served as the special assistant to the president and the senior director for biodefense policy on the Homeland Security Council. He was previously the staff director for Senator Richard Burr's subcommittee on bioterrorism and public health in the 109th Congress.
During his presentation, Kadlec said that of the four principals laid out in President Barack Obama's position on bioterrorism on July 16, 2008, only two of the four principals have been met. Those two are preventing bioterror attacks, which is supported by the development of domestic and international policy, and leading an international effort to diminish the impact of major infectious disease epidemics, which has been provided for in the budget over the next six years.
Improvement must be made in the areas of building capacity to mitigate the consequences of bioterror attacks and accelerating the development of new vaccines, medicines and production capabilities, Kadlec said. To improve in these areas, there must be increased investment in biodefense programs like advanced countermeasure development.
Kadlec also spoke of  Black Swan events, which are catastrophic deliberate or natural biological events that are hard to predict and have a major impact. While it is difficult to predict these events, it is imperative to build up robustness to weather the negative ones while being able to exploit positive ones. Kadlec said that to become resilient against such events, the medical and public health response must have speed, agility, mass and broad spectrum capabilities consisting of drugs, vaccines and diagnostics.
"If we can deny the impact of such events by improving our detection, response, and recovery," Kadlec said. "It promotes prevention mitigating potential catastrophic casualties."