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Covid-19 has underscored the critical role the biopharma industrial base plays in the U.S.’s national and economic security. As I write this, safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines that were developed in record time are protecting and saving lives and making it possible for people to return to the office, school, and travel — normal life, in other words.

In January 2018, STAT reporter Helen Branswell wrote a story that posed a worrisome question: “Who will answer the call in the next outbreak?” She recognized the risk to fragile partnerships between U.S. government agencies and the biopharmaceutical companies that had answered the call to a series of outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics over a 15-year period, including West Nile, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the H1N1 pandemic, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), H7N9 influenza, Ebola virus disease, and Zika.


A 2015 workshop sponsored by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that I co-chaired with Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, documented the accumulating warning signs.

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