November 10, 2020

New Commission Publication: Diagnostics For Biodefense – Flying Blind with No Plan to Land


Contact:  Steve Aaron, SRA Communications, (717) 554-8614,



Failure to establish robust testing early in an outbreak cripples the Nation’s ability to
effectively respond and contain spread


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 10, 2020) – In a new special focus report released today, Diagnostics for Biodefense – Flying Blind with No Plan to Land, the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense provides an approach that would ensure the United States can rapidly develop innovative point-of-care and point-of-need diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and other novel, emerging, and reemerging infectious diseases when they occur. The United States failed to develop and distribute a reliable diagnostic test when COVID-19 first struck. While the country stumbled for weeks, others such as Germany, South Korea and Taiwan developed diagnostic tests and established testing infrastructure that allowed them to control the spread of the virus and reduce death rates.

“Diagnostics touch every facet of the response to a biological event,” said Commission Co-Chair, former Senator Joe Lieberman. “Failing to establish a robust testing regimen early in an outbreak has cascading effects that cripple the Nation’s ability to effectively respond and contain spread. The Administration and Congress should not wait until COVID-19 recedes to take up these important recommendations. Instead, they should establish diagnostic testing capacity and support development of new tests to address COVID-19 now and for the infectious disease pandemics or bioterrorist attacks to come.”

The report contains recommendations for both the Executive and Legislative Branches of the government. In accordance with Recommendation 30 of the Commission’s baseline 2015 A National Blueprint for Biodefense, the report calls for the development of a national plan for testing, recommending that Congress amend the CARES Act of 2020 to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, to establish a new task force to develop innovative rapid diagnostic solutions and scale up testing dramatically across the Nation, eliminate supply chain disruptions, and pursue advances in diagnostic technology.

“Because of COVID-19, we saw some additional investment in diagnostics, but not anywhere close to the degree required to keep the Nation safe from biological threats,” said Commission Co-Chair and former Secretary of Homeland Security Secretary, Governor Tom Ridge. “Despite top U.S. health officials recognizing that existing diagnostic technology cannot cope with COVID-19 and that the obvious need for new, innovative diagnostic technologies, the federal government continues to more highly prioritize and invest in vaccines and therapeutics. We must seize upon the opportunity provided by COVID-19 to ensure that our Nation possesses or can develop the diagnostic tests it needs when it needs them.”

The full report can be accessed here

About the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense

The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense was established in 2014 to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the state of U.S. biodefense efforts, and to issue recommendations to foster change. The Panel’s 2015 report, National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts, identified capability gaps and recommended changes to U.S. policy and law to strengthen national biodefense while optimizing resource investments. Subsequent Commission publications have addressed critical needs for agrodefense, biodefense budgeting, and State, Local, Tribal and Territorial capabilities. In September 2018, the White House released the National Biodefense Strategy, a top recommendation from the Blueprint. The Commission continues to address biodefense challenges and to urge reform. Former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Tom Ridge co-chair the Commission, and are joined by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Representative Jim Greenwood, former Homeland Security Advisor Ken Wainstein, and former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco. Hudson Institute is the Commission’s fiscal sponsor.