Today the Nolan Center, an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks, is releasing a briefer on the future of a key yet little-known U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) program for addressing biological threats – the Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP).
The first case of COVID-19 identified outside of China occurred on January 13, 2020, in Thailand. This early detection can in large part be credited to the BTRP, which equipped partners in Thailand with disease surveillance technologies and trained experts on their use.
This is just one of countless examples of the BTRP’s successes stemming back to the immediate post-Cold War years. BTRP has grown and changed over its approximate twenty-five years of protecting the world from biological threats, and it must be resourced and led to continue evolving as biological threats do.
White House guidance in April 2021 indicated that top DoD priorities should include “biological threat reduction in cooperation with global partners, emerging infectious disease surveillance, biosafety and biosecurity, and medical countermeasure research and development.” BTRP is one of the core programs to advance such work. Yet in the administration budget submitted to Congress a few months ago, BTRP funding was slashed by 45% from the prior year.
The briefer provides several recommendations to help ensure the BTRP is sufficiently robust and effective in the coming years. It concludes by recommending that BTRP resources be increased by up to $400 million per year, a level of effort more commensurate with the threats the program addresses and sufficient to position BTRP as a key contributor to the U.S. bioeconomy as a strategic asset of the nation.
Read the full briefer here.