White House warns US 'not adequately prepared' to handle future pandemics without new strategy

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The White House warned Friday that the United States is “not adequately prepared” to handle future pandemics and other “high consequence biological threats,” and rolled out a strategy that would “fundamentally transform” the nation’s ability to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to pandemics and threats. 

In a report released Friday by the White House Office of Science and Technology and the National Security Council, officials warned that the U.S., currently, is “not adequately prepared” to handle future pandemics, warning that “serious” biological threats are expected to occur “at an increasing frequency.” 

White House national security officials outlined the administration’s work across five pillars—including transforming the United States’ medical defense; ensuring situational awareness; strengthening public health, systems; building core capabilities, and managing the mission. 

Transforming the U.S. medical defense system would include dramatically improving vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. With regard to vaccines, officials said the U.S. should “enable design, testing and review of a safe and effective vaccine against any human virus within 100 days after the recognition of a potential pandemic threat.” 

The effort would enable the production of enough vaccines for the entire U.S. population “within 130 days and for the global population within 200 days after its recognition as a potential emerging pandemic threat.” 

As for therapeutics, officials said a range suitable for “any virus family” should be available “before a pandemic or readily created during a pandemic.” 

According to the White House, the COVID-19 pandemic, as of mid-August 2021, COVID-19 has killed more than 4.3 million people globally, with excess mortality estimates suggesting a death toll exceeding 10 million. In the U.S., the number of deaths directly attributed to COVID-19 has surpassed 623,000 with many recovered patients living with “long-term effects.” 

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