President Trump’s new National Biodefense Strategy contains welcome tactics for protecting the health of Americans when “biological incidents” such as the 2001 anthrax attacks or the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa occur. Some of the plans, however, are at odds with the administration’s policies on health insurance and immigration. Reconciling the two is essential for the strategy to match its promise.
We see three notable positive steps in the strategy. One is the appointment of Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to be biodefense point person. A second is the plan’s recognition that disease “does not respect borders,” an essential principle if this strategy is to succeed. The third is an emphasis on the strategic importance of using diagnostic testing in the response to biological incidents, giving it equal footing with vaccines and drugs.