United States Launches Three Biodefence Centres
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today awarded contracts for the creation of three new centres tasked with responding to the threat of future pandemics and biological attacks. To be based in Maryland, North Carolina and Texas, the three centres are comprised of academic and industry consortia whose role it will be to hasten the development and manufacturing of vaccines and medications in the event of an emerging biological threat.
“Establishing these centers represents a dramatic step forward in ensuring that the United States can produce life-saving countermeasures quickly and nimbly,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement on 18 June. “They will improve our ability to protect Americans’ health in an emergency and help fill gaps in preparedness so that our nation can respond to known or unknown threats.”
The three Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing are the first tangible result of a review concluded by HHS in 2010, which highlighted major improvements needed to effectively fight disease outbreaks — like those of H1N1 in 2009 or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 — or a bioterrorism attack, such as the anthrax attacks of 2001.