Survey reveals American majority favors increased biosecurity funding
In a new nationwide survey released by the Alliance for Biosecurity on Monday, 73 percent of the 1,612 Americans polled said they would support a congressional decision to increase funding to address biosecurity needs and capabilities.
The survey comes as Congress faces a looming Sept. 30 deadline for reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), legislation that has bolstered the federal government’s medical and public health preparedness for national security threats such as the spread of infectious diseases or chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) attacks.
Conducted on behalf of the Alliance, an organization that aims to strengthen public-private partnerships to advance critically neeeded medical countermeasures, the survey also showed that the majority of respondents (52 percent) were in favor of electing officials who are actively promoting and supporting biosecurity efforts. Additionally, 52 percent said that they would be less likely to re-elect a representative who voted against additional biosecurity funding to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).
“What we’re seeing in these results is that people care greatly about health security threats and want their elected officials putting more resources into medical countermeasures,” Brent MacGregor, co-chair of the Alliance for Biosecurity, said.
Political representation within survey participants remained even between Republican, Democratic, and unaffiliated respondents. The survey showed that 54 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of Democrats polled supported increased funding for the SNS and BARDA.
“Preparedness against naturally occurring and man-made biological threats is a very real part of our national security that Americans across a wide spectrum are willing to spend the necessary money to bolster,” MacGregor added.
Working together to fortify the nation’s biodefense position and its preparedness and response capabilities, more than two dozen members of Congress recently joined together to form the bipartisan Congressional Biodefense Caucus.
“This is an issue that too many of us take for granted,” U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), co-chair of the biodefense caucus, said on March 1 when the caucus was officially announced. “This is not an issue of fear but is one that requires knowledge, and we can work to educate members and the public on the importance of these issues,” she added.
Only 31 percent of Americans said they are confident in the country’s preparedness to respond to biosecurity threats, dropping 19 percentage points since a March 2016 survey, according to the Alliance.
“The American people deserve to feel safe,” Chris Frech, co-chair of the Alliance for Biosecurity, said. “We should strengthen the public-private partnerships that enhance national health security and support the rapid development, production, stockpiling and distribution of critically needed, lifesaving medical countermeasures so that Americans can be confident in their government’s preparedness to protect us from biological and chemical threats.”
The federal government currently budgets for biodefense across multiple federal agencies, which some experts say results in a lack of coordination that puts the public at risk. And given that biological threats to the United States are increasing, the federal government needs to make a strategic, long-term investment in biodefense with an integrated budget plan, according to a February report from the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense.