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Center for Health Security Senior Scholar Amesh Adalja Testifies at U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee

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Amesh Adalja, MD, FIDSA

December 8, 2021 – Today, Amesh Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provided expert testimony at a congressional hearing about strengthening biosecurity and biosurveillance practices and systems.

The hearing was convened by the United States House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee: Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation. In his testimony, Dr. Adalja reflected on surveillance systems, and identified strategies that, with additional investment, could help advance the country’s preparedness for future pandemics.

“The passive status quo makes us much more vulnerable to infectious disease threats [because] we lack full situational awareness of the microbial threats that we are facing now and will face in the future,” said Dr. Adalja.” We should complement the broad sampling of animal species with a more targeted type of surveillance focused on sampling of viruses present in patients in clinical environments.”

He recommended:

  1. Congress prioritize augmentation of diagnostic technologies as part of the international biosurvelliance enterprise by specifying that a substantial proportion of funds devoted to these activities be directed towards enhancing every day health care facility diagnostic capacity. Additionally, Congress should direct agencies to view such activities as an integral part of U.S. preparedness for biological threats.
  2. Making diagnostic capabilities routine, with the technology and tools that already exist today and are being used in healthcare facilities every day. Some of them can be used point-of-care with little training.
  3. Avoiding misconstruing The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP) as only an early warning system for exotic or biothreat organisms.

Read the full testimony. (PDF)

Watch the testimony.