Article Out Loud - Bipartisan Commission Says Nation Unprepared for Biological Events

An Article Out Loud from the Domestic Preparedness Journal.

On 17 February 2022, Dr. Asha M. George, executive director of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, testified as an expert witness before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs at a hearing on addressing the gaps in the nation’s biodefense and level of preparedness to respond to biological threats. In 2015, the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense released its first report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense, to warn that the biological threat was rising and to inform the government that the nation was insufficiently prepared to handle a large-scale biological event. When COVID-19 emerged in early 2020, many of those findings proved to be true.

Narrated by Bonnie Weidler

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Asha M. George

Asha M. George, DrPH, is the executive director of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense. She is a public health security professional whose research and programmatic emphasis has been practical, academic, and political. She served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a senior professional staffer and subcommittee staff director at the House Committee on Homeland Security in the 110th and 111th Congress. She has worked for a variety of organizations, including government contractors, foundations, and non-profits. As a contractor, she supported and worked with all federal departments, especially the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services. She also served on active duty in the U.S. Army as a military intelligence officer and as a paratrooper. She is a decorated Desert Storm Veteran. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Sciences from Johns Hopkins University, a Master of Science in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Doctorate in Public Health from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She is also a graduate of the Harvard University National Preparedness Leadership Initiative.

John T. O'Brien

John T. O’Brien, MS, is a research associate for the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense. He is a public health security professional with a background in bioengineering and emerging infectious diseases. Prior to joining the Commission, he conducted research on the biosecurity implications of artificial intelligence with the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford. Before that, he worked at the Nuclear Threat Initiative where he supported work on the Global Health Security Index as a contributing author. He previously conducted laboratory research at George Mason University’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases on novel detection methods for Zika, Chikungunya, Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, and Rift Valley Fever viruses. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering, with a concentration in Biomedical Signals & Systems, from George Mason University and a Master of Science in Biohazardous Threat Agents and Emerging Infectious Diseases from Georgetown University. He is also currently pursuing his DPhil in Biology at the University of Oxford.

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