Smiths Detection calls for a more focused commitment to protect society from biothreats during The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense

Warren Mino, Managing Director of Biotechnology for Smiths Detection, outlines a proactive approach to develop and field critical technology to protect against biological threats

Dr. Warren Mino, Managing Director of Biotechnology for Smiths Detection, has called for greater federal investment in biodetection programs to protect society from biothreats. Speaking at The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, Mino outlined what was needed to improve and enhance the current Biodefense program in the U.S. Mino shared insights with the Commission about the obstacles to effectively tackle biological threats as well as providing actionable recommendations on how these obstacles can be overcome.

The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense is a privately funded entity which provides assessments on the U.S. state’s biodefense efforts as well as recommendations on how these efforts can be further improved.

Mino focused on three recommendations aimed at fostering multi-agency policy making, stimulating technology development, and positioning the defence program to safeguard against new, evolving threats into the future.

Mino highlighted that one of the biggest barriers to protecting society from biological threats is that organizations do not know how to handle a biological threat once detected, and also don’t want to be liable for the presence of a biothreat. Mino outlined that federal multi-agency support is required to deploy a layered and holistic approach which both enhances understanding of different threat environments and encourages proactive testing for threats by protecting entities from liability.

Alongside the development of supportive policy, Mino emphasized the importance of obligated funding and demand to support the development and implementation of next-generation bio detection technologies. Significant government funding is required not only for R&D but to transition new biothreat detection technology to manufacturability, which requires field trials and early adopters so that solutions can be refined to meet mission requirements. If biothreat detection capabilities are obligated, creating demand, private sector developers and manufacturers can prioritise resources to counter the most pressing biothreat challenges now and in the future.

Finally, Mino outlined that the U.S. government needs to work collaboratively with private and public industry with a clear commitment to Biothreat Defense, Detection, Response and Protection.

Commenting on the need for more influential investments in biothreat protection, Warren Mino said: “We have witnessed the devastating impact of a rapidly spreading infectious virus like COVID-19. Viruses and other biological threats cannot be predicted, making proactive environmental monitoring and testing critical to both detection of biothreats and prevention of mass scale incidents. At the heart of this is the ability to understand threat environments, enabled by advancing detection technology. Only federal investment in biodetection programmes can ensure the right capabilities for effectively tackling present and future biothreats. The industry, in partnership with government, can create biodefence systems that predict, prevent, detect, and respond to the natural and human-made biological threats that the world will face in the coming decades.”

 Smiths Detection’s actionable recommendations complement those of the recent report from the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, Saving Sisyphus: Advanced Biodetection for the 21st Century (October 2021). The report calls for the U.S. Congress to mandate the federal defense of critical infrastructure against biological threats through working alongside private industry and international partners, as well as the establishment of a critical infrastructure biodefence programme at the Department of Homeland Security.