The US Defense Health Agency (DHA) has conducted a summit in Silver Spring, Maryland, to discuss emerging technologies to alleviate infectious diseases as outlined in the US Department of Defense’s 2023 Biodefense Posture.
The documentation sets guidelines to prevent “catastrophic biological incidents, improve pandemic preparedness, and manage the risk of any related incidents, whether deliberate, accidental, or natural.
Leveraging COVID Tracking Solutions
Led by DHA’s Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) segment, the summit tackled beneficial solutions similar to GEIS’ existing capabilities demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One example is GEIS’ SARS-CoV-2 positive sample sequencing system, which enabled military health experts to facilitate close monitoring of the virus at multiple global installations.
DHA wrote that the applications can serve as an early biothreat warning and further aid US defense in detecting and characterizing infectious disease threats before they spread.
Another topic discussed at the meeting was wastewater surveillance, a method also proven useful in monitoring community virus transmissions during the surge of COVID-19.
The method is used to track antimicrobial resistance or the tolerance of fungi and bacteria against drugs developed to eliminate them, DHA said.
According to DHA, the ideas presented at the conference will be the basis of GEIS’ future strategies and DHA’s plans for public health and biosurveillance projects.
“The summit serves a critical function to inform and expedite the next generation of sequencing technology,” DHA Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division Chief Col. Patrick Kennedy stated.
“As good stewards of tax dollars, we can leverage the capabilities of our partners, while minimizing redundancy where possible.”