Weber discusses biosurveillance growth

In an interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Chanel, Andrew C. Weber, the assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, discussed the growth of biosurveillance.
Weber said that because humans live in such an interconnected world, a disease outbreak anywhere on the planet can be a potential global threat. The Defense Department has several programs that involve global biosurveillance, including the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System, which is a division of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, the American Forces Press Service reports.
“We might not know about [an attack] until people or even animals show up sick or start dying,” Weber said, according to the American Forces Press Service. “So the best thing you can do [is] to have a global early warning system for biological attacks, whether they are deliberate or natural. They also give us a good platform for enhancing regional partner capacity to detect and monitor and respond to infectious disease outbreaks."
DOD programs seek out early warning for infectious diseases, target nuclear deterrence and bolster the ability of U.S. partners around the world to prevent, prepare for and respond to events involving WMD.
“Our national security strategy makes preventing and preparing for the possibility that terrorist groups would acquire weapons of mass destruction, whether it be biological weapons or nuclear weapons, our first priority," Weber said, American Forces Press Service reports.
The DOD has its own biological research laboratories that work on developing medical products. The labs collaborate with industrial and academic partners around the world to find rapid ways to respond to a biological attack from an unknown agents, quickly characterize it and develop a countermeasure.
“Rather than having a drug or a vaccine for every potential [threat], we need a capability to respond quickly, to be able to characterize what is causing illness, and then to develop as quickly as possible a medical countermeasure to save lives," Weber said, according to the American Forces Press Service.