The Division of Protection is modernizing its strategy for growing medical countermeasures to guard warfighters from novel organic brokers.
That is made clear in a brand new doc, “Approach for Research, Development and Acquisition of Medical Countermeasures and Test Products,” which was just lately revealed by the Workplace of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Protection for Chemical and Organic Protection. This workplace oversees the Division of Protection’s Chemical and Organic Protection Program. The CBDP’s mission is to anticipate future threats and ship capabilities that allow the Joint Power to battle and win in CB-contested environments.
The CBDP has all the time prioritized medical countermeasures, which encompass vaccines, medical exams and medicines. “Regardless of how good our boots, fits, gloves and masks carry out, there’s all the time going to be the danger that our warfighters do not essentially have their gear on after they want it. So having medical countermeasures as an added layer for cover is sensible,” Dr. Kevin Wingerd, CBDP’s medical director, mentioned.
What has modified is the character of the risk.
“The convergence of various sciences and applied sciences is remodeling the organic risk panorama,” Wingerd mentioned. “Particularly, it has created an almost limitless variety of potential threats we should defend towards.”
This contrasts to the previous, when DOD developed medical countermeasures towards an outlined checklist of particular threats, sometimes ones adversaries had already weaponized. However this “one bug, one drug” strategy is not viable within the face of the exponentially bigger variety of potential threats, together with novel ones.
Neither is the Division solely targeted on deliberate organic threats. In his Biodefense Imaginative and prescient Memo revealed in November 2021, Secretary of Protection Lloyd J. Austin III directed the Division to be postured towards brokers which might be naturally occurring in addition to those who might have been launched by chance, alongside conventional deliberate ones. The brand new medical countermeasures strategy gives a roadmap to deal with this more difficult drawback set.
In response to the doc, nonspecific medical countermeasures will allow warfighters to stay on the battlefield after being uncovered to an agent. After that agent has been recognized, fast improvement of medical countermeasures that remove the particular risk will likely be given to all warfighters, together with these newly getting into the battle.
Nonspecific medical countermeasures are broad-spectrum performing and are designed to focus on a set of comparable brokers, ailments or signs. Nonspecific medical countermeasures are significantly important for novel brokers that haven’t any medical countermeasures. Administrating nonspecific medical countermeasures may alleviate signs, decelerate illness development and scale back transmission of the agent, permitting troops to stay within the battle with little impairment. Whereas the agent could also be suppressed for a given interval, a medical countermeasure that targets and eliminates the novel agent remains to be required.
As Wingerd places it, “Utilizing nonspecific medical countermeasures permits the agent’s results to be mitigated and the warfighter to stay operational and fight prepared, whereas concurrently permitting for fast improvement of particular medical countermeasures that can be utilized to fully eliminate the agent and shield incoming warfighters.”
To quickly develop narrow-spectrum medical countermeasures, the CBDP will leverage leading edge know-how together with synthetic intelligence and machine studying and set up partnerships with recognized pharmaceutical producers. The CBDP considers manufacturing capability a strategic problem, which the brand new strategy addresses as a aim.
“In a response preparedness posture, we have to put money into distinctive medical infrastructure designed to quickly produce new vaccines and medicines, and leverage current medical infrastructure by adapting them to focus on new brokers rapidly,” Wingerd defined.
“What COVID has actually taught us is that if that industrial base is not current, it would not matter how good your concepts are, they’re simply not going to go anyplace,” he added, mentioning that partnerships with the interagency, academia and U.S. allies and companions are additionally vital.
Moreover the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration, which is the regulating company for medical countermeasures, Wingerd talked about the Biomedical Superior Analysis and Improvement Authority and the White Home Workplace of Science and Expertise Coverage as key CBDP interagency companions. Pointing to the just lately up to date Nationwide Biodefense Technique, Wingerd mentioned, “This effort can be a complete of presidency strategy, and the CBDP’s new strategy aligns with and helps the NBS.”
He added that he expects new advances in medical countermeasures to bear fruit starting as early as subsequent 12 months, with extra to observe.