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National Security Snapshot: Department of Defense and Intelligence Community Preparedness for Biological Threats

GAO-23-106066 Published: Oct 20, 2022. Publicly Released: Oct 20, 2022.
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Biological threats—such as COVID-19 or bioweapons, like anthrax—can cause catastrophic loss of life and global instability.

Our work highlights areas relevant to DOD and the Intelligence Community, including preparedness for biological threats and China's intent to exploit U.S. genetic data.

We made several key recommendations to improve how DOD and the Intelligence Community prepare for and respond to biological threats. DOD is taking a number of positive steps, such as coordinating with partners to research and develop vaccines. But, DOD doesn't have a comprehensive strategy that, for example, shows where biodefense resources are needed.

microscopic images of anthrax chains

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GAO has reported on emerging biological threats, the role of the National Center for Medical Intelligence in producing and disseminating medical intelligence, and Department of Defense and Intelligence Community efforts to mitigate the risks posed by China's collection and use of U.S. genetic data.

For more information, contact Joseph W. Kirschbaum at (202) 512-9971 or or Brian M. Mazanec at (202) 512-5130 or

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Biological warfareBiotechnologyGeneticsIntelligence communityNational securityPathogenspandemicsDefense capabilitiesAnthraxPublic health