Congressman Bera warns U.S. must be better prepared for biological threats like Covid-19

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Congressman Ami Bera, D-California, right, with army personnel in undated picture on his website. Photo: bera.house.gov

Congressman Dr. Ami Bera, D-California, one of four Indian-American lawmakers on Capitol Hill, said Covid-19 must be considered a national security threat and treated with better preparedness.

Rep. Bera, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation, chaired a Subcommittee hearing Dec. 8, 2021, on the importance of strengthening biosecurity through deterrence and detection.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the grave consequences that low-probability, high-impact biological threats can have on our daily lives if we are not prepared,” Bera said.

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“It is a national security imperative that the United States dedicate appropriate resourcing and sustained attention to biological security to counter and prepare for a wide range of threats, including naturally occurring events, medical center accidents, or deliberate biological weapon attacks. We cannot afford to be stagnant in our preparations and planning for the biological threats of tomorrow.”

Expert witnesses iat the Dec. 8 hearing included Amesh Adalja, Ph.D., senior scholar, Center for Health Security, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health; Andy Weber of the Council on Strategic Risks; Jaime Yassif, Ph.D., from the  Global Biological Policy and Programs, Nuclear Threat Initiative; and Kevin Esvelt, Ph.D., director, Sculpting Evolution Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Rep. Bera, a long time champion of global health security,  chaired the first congressional hearing on COVID-19 in February 2020, and co-chaired an October 2020 joint House Foreign Affairs and House Armed Services hearing on biosecurity and emerging biological threats.

 

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