August 1, 2017

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has published the first working definition of Global Catastrophic Biological Risks (GCBRs) to place new focus on a special category of biological risks that have received too limited research and effort given their potential for harm to humanity.

The GCBR definition appears in a larger Center analysis of GCBR challenges in the July/August 2017 issue of Health Security, along with 10 companion GCBR commentary pieces written by a range of leading scientists and public health experts. Presented together as a special feature, the article and companion pieces endeavor to refine collective thinking on GCBRs and advance protections against them by initiating a conversation on the authors' underlying concepts and assumptions.

Public Health & Healthcare Preparedness
White House Panel Urges Trump to Declare State of Emergency Over Opioid Crisis.
"The first and most urgent recommendation of this Commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act," the committee wrote in an interim report released Monday.  (STAT News, 7/31/17)

Interim Guidance for Health Care Providers Caring for Pregnant Women with Possible Zika Virus Exposure - United States (Including US Territories), July 2017.
CDC has updated the interim guidance for U.S. health care providers caring for pregnant women with possible Zika virus exposure in response to 1) declining prevalence of Zika virus disease in the World Health Organization's Region of the Americas (Americas) and 2) emerging evidence indicating prolonged detection of Zika virus immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies.  (CDC, 7/28/17)
Temporary Total Depletion of US Licensed Yellow Fever Vaccine for Civilian Travelers Addressed by Investigational New Drug Use of Imported Stamaril Vaccine.
During the interim period until YF-VAX is available again for use in the United States, Stamaril will be available in a limited number of designated clinics, selected to provide access to vaccine in US states and certain territories.  (CDC, 7/28/17)
Republicans Try to Pick Up the Pieces After Healthcare Defeat.
Trump has not had a major legislative victory after more than six months in office, and his administration is mired in investigations into contacts between his election campaign and Russia and high-level White House staff infighting. He had promised to get major healthcare legislation, tax cuts and a boost in infrastructure spending through Congress in short order.  (Reuters, 7/27/17)

See also
Stopping Antibiotic Resistance Before it Gets to Our Plates.
GAO recommends that USDA, in coordination with the CDC and other stakeholders, develop a framework to help them decide when to conduct an on-farm investigation.  (GAO, 7/27/17)
Vaccination Remains the Most Cost-Effective Strategy to Get on Track with Hepatitis B Elimination in Resource-Limited Settings.
CDC's commitment to collaborating with global partners to eliminate hepatitis B will continue to contribute to the impact of hepatitis B vaccination, as shown in the Western Pacific Region.  (CDC, 7/27/17)
The Role of Science in Addressing the Opioid Crisis.
Opioid misuse and addiction is an ongoing and rapidly evolving public health crisis, requiring innovative scientific solutions. In response, and because no existing medication is ideal for every patient, the National Institutes of Health is joining with private partners to launch an initiative in three scientific areas.  (New England Journal of Medicine, 7/27/17)
What US Budget Cuts to Global Health Could Mean for Future Funding.
On May 23, 2017, President Donald Trump released his FY 2018 budget request to Congress that includes approximately $2.5 billion in cuts to global health. These cuts had been foreshadowed in the administration's earlier "Budget Blueprint," which sought "deep cuts to foreign aid" to "free up funding for critical priorities here at home and put America first."  (Health Affairs, 7/26/17)
Is the World Ready to Respond to Another Large-Scale Ebola Outbreak?
While the Democratic Republic of the Congo has extensive experience with Ebola, and the latest outbreak took place in a remote region where it was relatively easy to contain, public health officials continue to prepare for the possibility of a more difficult outbreak like the one that began in West Africa in 2014. In this interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, provides an update on that effort.  (World Politics Review, 7/25/17)
CARB-X Announces Funding for Global Scientists Racing to Discover New Antibiotics to Treat Superbugs.
A year since launching, the international partnership CARB-X today announces its second round of antibiotic research and development funding - alongside a call for greater global support. Drug-resistant infections currently cause around 700,000 deaths worldwide annually - if antibiotic resistance continues at its current rate that could rise significantly within a generation.  (CARB-X, 7/25/17)
Country with World's Highest HIV Prevalence is Now Controlling its HIV Epidemic.
"CDC plays an essential role in the global HIV response by ensuring that programs rapidly respond to new data for greatest impact," said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. "CDC's commitment as a longstanding stakeholder in the global HIV response, working side-by-side with ministries of health on evidence-based programs, has helped transform some of the world's most severe HIV epidemics."  (CDC, 7/24/17)
Pediatrics and Public Health: Working Together to Prepare for Emergencies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes the needs of children a priority at every level of planning for an emergency. One critical way to achieve this is to have pediatricians and local and state public health professionals collaborate on planning for an emergency so as to ensure that children's needs are met.  (CDC, 7/21/17)
Keeping the US Prescription Drug Supply Chain Among the Safest in the World.
Substandard and falsified drugs are global problems that need global solutions and global collaboration. We cannot solve these challenges alone and we at FDA are continually looking for ways to collaborate and learn from our regulatory counterparts around the world.  (FDA, 7/20/17)
Highly Pathogenic Infectious Disease Exercise Planning for Regional Transport.
The National Ebola Training and Education Center (NETEC) in partnership with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange is hosting a webinar series highlighting NETEC's suite of free, fully customizable, Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program-compliant exercise materials.The webinar will be held on August 23, 2017, 2-3 PM EST. Registration is required.  (NACCHO, 7/17)

Homeland Security & Disaster Preparedness
DHS: FEMA, Take Back Katrina $2B from New Orleans. FEMA: No.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency should take back $2 billion dollars in grants approved to fix New Orleans sewers and water pipes damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and to repair streets afterward, a federal audit says. FEMA says no.  (US News & World Report, 7/27/17)
FEMA Mobile Disaster Centers Reach Out to Help Rural Residents.
Most people associate the use of motor homes with recreational life-accessing parks, lakes and other scenic areas to reduce the stress of the daily grind. FEMA maintains a national fleet of similar vehicles it rolls out for a different purpose: to reduce the stress on rural residents recovering from natural disasters.  (Department of Homeland Security, 7/26/17)
The National Security Act Turns 70.
Seventy years ago today, on July 26, 1947, President Harry Truman signed into law the National Security Act. The scholar Douglas Stuart has rightly called it "the law that transformed America." Some of the most important institutions of America's national defense and international leadership, including the National Security Council, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, and Air Force, all trace their birth to this one law.  (War on the Rocks, 7/26/17)
The Tricked-Out Research Planes that Fly Through Wildfires.
The US Forest Service runs a Fire Sciences Lab in Missoula, where Dr. Bob Yokelson has compared burning manzanita to ponderosa pine to see how fires in different ecosystems might burn. But it's incredibly difficult to capture every component of a burning forest-with variable light, temperature, and fuel conditions-in a lab. So the truest measurements come straight from the airspace above a burning forest.  (Wired, 7/26/17)
Federal Disaster Assistance Response and Recovery Programs: Brief Summaries.
This report is designed to assist Members of Congress and their staff as they address the needs of their states, communities, and constituents after a disaster. It includes a summary of federal programs that provide federal disaster assistance to individual survivors, states, territories, local governments, and nongovernmental entities following a natural or man-made disaster.  (Congressional Research Service, 7/18/17)
EARTH EX: Emergency All-sector Response Transnational Hazard Exercise.
The Electric Infrastructure Security Council is hosting a virtual multi-sector, emergency response, transnational hazard exercise, EARTH EX, on August 23, 2017. EARTH EX is a part of the National Exercise Program sponsored by the US Department of Energy. This event is open to organizational staff representing the private, non-profit, and private sectors, as well as individuals and families. (NACCHO, 7/17)

Radiological & Nuclear Preparedness
Why the Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming From Inside the White House.
he Department of Energy contains a collection of programs and offices without a clear organizing principle. About half its budget (in 2016 approximately $30 billion) went to maintaining the nuclear arsenal and protecting Americans from nuclear threats. It sent teams with equipment to big public events-the Super Bowl, for instance-to measure the radiation levels, in hopes of detecting a dirty bomb before it exploded. "They really were doing things to, like, keep New York safe," said John MacWilliams (Associate Deputy Secretary, Department of Energy). "These are not hypothetical things. These are actual risks."  (Vanity Fair, 8/17)

Science & Technology Policy
DARPA Wants to Build a BS Detector for Science.
The DoD has plenty of good reasons to want to know what social science to believe. But plenty more is at stake here. DARPA's asking for a system that can solve one of the most urgent philosophical problems of our time: How do you know what's true when science, the news, and social media all struggle with errors, advertising, propaganda, and lies.  (Wired, 7/30/17)
Pruitt Says EPA Will Create "Top-10" List for Superfund Cleanup.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt vowed Tuesday to cut through bureaucratic red tape that has slowed the cleanup of toxic Superfund sites and follow a task force's recommendations to act more boldly in holding companies responsible for past contamination.  (Washington Post, 7/25/17)
Synthetic Biology for Engineering Applications.
This Funding Opportunity Announcement invites applications to conduct research to advance the understanding and application of synthetic biology for human health. It will support 1) the development of innovative tools and technologies in synthetic biology and 2) their application in biomedical research and human health. An integrative research plan based on collaborations of synthetic biologists with computational scientists, cell biologists, engineers, and/or physician scientists is strongly recommended.  (, 7/24/17)
This Week's Hearings

Nomination Hearing. US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. 8/1/17, 2:30 PM, Dirksen 430. More


Oversight of the US Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund Program. US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight. 8/1/17, 10 AM. Dirksen 406.  More

Hearing to Examine Increasing Water Security and Drought Preparedness Through Infrastructure, Management, and Innovation. US Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Water and Power. 8/2/2017, 10 AM. Dirksen 366. More


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