May 18, 2017

Panel Co-Chairs Address Dual Health Security Issues


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


WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 16, 2017) – News of the outbreak of Ebola Zaire in the Democratic Republic of Congo announced by the country’s government and the World Health Organization last week has been obscured by the major news of the ongoing and unprecedented global cyberattack. Senator Joseph Lieberman and Governor Tom Ridge, the co-chairs of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, have issued the following statement with respect to these dual threats:

“This situation underscores the fact that multiple assaults to the health sector can, and do, occur simultaneously. An Ebola outbreak is in itself not unexpected in this region of the world, but it accentuates the need for continued vigilance, for investment in prediction and prevention, and for U.S. support of global health efforts to ensure containment of outbreaks at their source.

“The cyber hack’s demonstrated ability to cripple public health facilities in the United Kingdom, forcing hospital officials to turn patients away, is extraordinarily concerning. Cyber risks to the U.S. healthcare and public health sector have been acknowledged by our government for some time, and to some extent have been considered in the National Health Security Strategy. Our Panel has significant concerns, however, about adversaries’ ability to get ahead of our slow-moving cybersecurity policies and efforts. Further, a cyber attack that was deployed simultaneously with a biological attack – or simply deployed at the same time that a pandemic is circulating – could easily exceed health response resources.

“It is of paramount importance that cyber vulnerabilities to this sector be addressed in the National Biodefense Strategy that the Trump Administration is currently developing and is due to Congress in September. As always, our Panel stands ready to assist in that critical work.”


About the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense

The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefensewas 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, A 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. The Panel continues to assess biodefense challenges and to urge reform. Former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Tom Ridge co-chair the Panel, and are joined by former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Representative Jim Greenwood, and the Honorable Ken Wainstein. Hudson Institute is the Panel’s fiscal sponsor.