Monitoring USG action on readiness and response
Preparedness Pulsepoints | Monitoring USG action on readiness and response
Published by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
Sanjana Ravi, MPH, Editor
June 5, 2018

"Clade X" was a daylong pandemic simulation held by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in May. Clade X turned out to be an engineered bioweapon, combining the virulence of Nipah virus with parainfluenza's ease of transmission. It had been intentionally released by A Brighter Dawn, a fictitious group modeled on the Japanese doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, which carried out the sarin-gas attacks in the Tokyo subway system, in 1995. A Brighter Dawn's stated goal was to reduce the world's population to pre-industrial levels. By the end of the day, which represented twenty months in the simulation, they had managed to kill a perfectly respectable hundred and fifty million people. "America was just wiped out," Talent said, before heading to a post-event cocktail reception.

Public Health & Healthcare Preparedness
Spillover of Swine Coronaviruses, United States. USDA officials and researchers at Colorado State University report that porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, a pathogen first detected in US domestic swine in 2013, has rapidly spilled over into feral swine populations. A better understanding of the factors associated with pathogen emergence is needed to better manage, and ultimately prevent, future spillover events from domestic to nondomestic animals.  (Emerging Infectious Diseases, 6/4/18)
CDC Would Lose Control of Emergency Drug Stockpile Under House Bill. Proponents of shifting the $547 million program to a different agency say the supplies contained in the warehouses are meant not only to address the threats under which they were initially created, such as a terrorist attack or nuclear war, but also to fight off infectious diseases and to respond to natural disasters and even more unexpected threats.  (Washington Examiner, 6/4/18)
CDC: 5 Dead, Close to 200 Sick in Worst E. coli Outbreak Since 2006. Four additional people have been killed and hundreds have fallen ill due to an E. coli outbreak from romaine lettuce, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday. (Atlanta Journal Constitution, 6/4/18)
5 Communication Lessons Learned from Hurricane Maria. Hurricane Maria was an unprecedented disaster, exposing residents to an increased risk for foodborne, waterborne, infectious and non-infectious diseases, and other public health risks. CDC had to figure out how to communicate about multiple health risks to the public, especially to those in rural and isolated communities, when basic resources and services were not available. (CDC, 6/4/18)

HIV Vaccine Elicits Antibodies in Animals that Neutralize Dozens of HIV Strains. An experimental vaccine regimen based on the structure of a vulnerable site on HIV elicited antibodies in mice, guinea pigs and monkeys that neutralize dozens of HIV strains from around the world. The findings were reported today by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (NIAID, 6/4/18)

Trump Administration Supports Response to Ebola Outbreak in Congo. The Trump Administration is taking swift action to combat the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our goal, as described in the President's National Security Strategy, is to contain outbreaks at their source, before they spread regionally or globally. The Trump Administration makes progress toward this goal through actions described in the Global Health Security Agenda, an international effort that strengthens partner countries' capability to prevent, detect, and respond to epidemic threats, in compliance with the International Health Regulations (2005). (The White House, 6/1/18)
CDC Adds Two Novel H7N9 Viruses to Risk Assessment List. The two additions are both North American lineage H7N9 viruses detected in US poultry over the past two seasons, a highly pathogenic form found at a commercial farm in Tennessee and a low-pathogenic form found in commercial and backyard poultry in Tennessee and three other states.  (CDC, 5/31/18)
Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, on FDA's Work to Mitigate Shortages of Intravenous Drugs, Shorten Supply Disruptions and Better Predict Vulnerabilities. One of the most frustrating challenges that health care providers and patients must contend with is when a drug that's medically necessary and critical to patient care is unavailable due to a shortage. We know that the uncertainty over how long a drug will be in shortage, how to ration supplies in the meantime, or worse, how to prepare for a sudden event that might place unforeseen demands on a product that's in short supply, adds burdens and stress on providers and patients. (FDA, 5/31/18)
Yemen Systems, Health and Resiliency Project (SHARP). This Broad Agency Announcement seeks opportunities to co-create, co-design, co-invest, and collaborate in the research, development, piloting, testing, and scaling of innovative, practical and cost-effective interventions to strengthen Yemen's Health Sector to a point of resilience within fluctuating humanitarian, early recovery and development cycle context.  (, 5/31/18)
NIH Scientists Show How Tularemia Bacteria Trick Cells to Cause Disease. Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have unraveled the process by which the bacteria cause disease. They found that F. tularensis tricks host cell mitochondria, which produce energy for the cell, in two different phases of infection. (NIAID, 5/30/18)
SAMHSA Announces $196 Million Funding Opportunity for Opioid Treatment Grants to Hardest-Hit States and Tribes. The new funding will expand access to medication-assisted treatment and recovery support services to people with opioid use disorder. Eligibility is limited to the states, political subdivisions within states, and public and private nonprofit organizations in states with the highest rates of primary treatment admissions for heroin and prescription opioids per capita and includes those with the most dramatic increases for heroin and prescription opioids, as identified by SAMHSA's 2015 Treatment Episode Data Set. Tribes and tribal organizations across the United States are also eligible to receive funding.  (Department of Health & Human Services, 5/30/18)

USDA and FDA Cooperation Continues to Ensure a Safe Food Supply. Together, USDA and FDA collaborate on food protection-related science, emergency response and preparedness. USDA's Secretary Sonny Perdue and Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, signed an agreement to coordinate research efforts in food safety and related regulatory issues. The event formalized efforts started between program directors who recognized a need to share expertise in their respective sciences. (USDA, 5/30/18)
PEPFAR Marks 15 Years of Saving Lives. The US government, through PEPFAR, has not only saved and improved millions of lives, but also transformed the global HIV/AIDS response. When PEPFAR began, only 50,000 people in Africa were on lifesaving HIV treatment. PEPFAR now supports over 14 million people on treatment globally.  (Department of State, 5/27/18)
Dialing Up the Body's Defenses Against Public Health and National Security Threats. Inspired by recent advances in understanding of when and how genes express their traits, DARPA's new PReemptive Expression of Protective Alleles and Response Elements (PREPARE) program will explore ways to better protect against biological, chemical, or radiological threats by temporarily and reversibly tuning gene expression to bolster the body's defenses against -- or directly neutralize -- a given threat. (DARPA, 5/25/18)
DHS Seeks BioWatch Laboratory Staffing Support. BioWatch currently maintains operational laboratories in approximately 30 jurisdictions across the country. The program must ensure each location is able to perform daily sample collection and analysis in a timely manner and be flexible enough to provide additional coverage for large special security or other high-risk events.  (Global Biodefense, 5/24/18)
Homeland Security & Disaster Preparedness
Threat Detection at US Ports. A new approach called the Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS) provides rapid, in-line scanning of cargo for both security threats and illegal shipments. The system is completely automated and produces no radiation. The MMPDS detector technology is based in part on NSF-funded particle physics research that was originally developed to find and track subatomic particles for nuclear and high-energy physics experiments. (National Science Foundation, 6/1/18)
FEMA: We Are Not the First Responders. Brock Long, FEMA administrator, writes that FEMA will always work tirelessly to support state, local, tribal and territorial partners to respond to and recover from disasters. FEMA is not a first responder; disasters are state managed, locally executed and federally supported. Its role is to support local governments following a disaster only after their capacity to respond has been exceeded.  (USA TODAY, 5/31/18)
Federal Disaster Assistance: Individual Assistance Requests Often Granted but FEMA Could Better Document Factors Considered. GAO found that FEMA regions did not consistently obtain and document information on all elements of established IA regulatory factors when making IA recommendations to headquarters. (GAO, 5/31/18)
How the USGS Used a Drone to Save Someone from KÄ«lauea's Lava. A USGS team was able to find a resident with the drone and have them follow it out of the lava flows and vegetation to safety. The drone was also able to send real-time images and video of the lava flows to emergency responders to help them more efficiently help residents and know where to send people as the evacuation progressed. (Discover, 5/30/18)
Radiological & Nuclear Disaster Preparedness
Radiation Protection of the Public as Practiced by the State and Local Radiation Programs. The purpose of this NOFO is to provide a forum that should make it possible for state and federal agencies to work together and apply their limited resources to address radiological health issues of mutual interest. (, 5/31/18)
Science & Technology Policy
NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science. As articulated in the National Institutes of Health-Wide Strategic Plan and the Department of Health and Human Services Strategic Plan, our nation and the world stand at a unique moment of opportunity in biomedical research, and data science is an integral contributor. Understanding basic biological mechanisms through NIH-funded research depends upon vast amounts of data and has propelled biomedicine into the sphere of "Big Data" along with other sectors of the national and global economies.  (NIH, 6/4/18)
Animal Use in Federal Research: Agencies Share Information, but Reporting and Data Quality Could Be Strengthened. Federal agencies must treat research animals humanely in their quest to answer scientific questions. As a check on their practices, the agencies must submit data about their animal use to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the National Institutes of Health. (GAO, 5/31/18)
This Week's Hearings
Examining the Reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act. US House Committee on Energy & Commerce, Subcommittee on Health. 6/6/18, 10 AM. Rayburn 2123. More
Wildfire Risk, Forest Health, and Associated Management Priorities of the US Forest Service. US House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations. 6/7/18, 2 PM. Longworth 1324. More


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