What We’re Reading: Biden Biodefense Strategy; Racial Disparities in Fertility Medicine; Global Leaders Pledge to End Polio

The White House launched a national biodefense strategy to protect the country from future pandemics and biological threats; researchers found racial disparities in infant deaths following fertility treatments; global leaders pledged a total of $2.6 billion toward the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s 2022-2026 Strategy.

Biden Administration Launches Health Security Strategy

The White House Tuesday launched the US national biodefense strategy as part of President Joe Biden’s plan to protect the country from future pandemics and biological threats, The Hill reported. The strategy to strengthen health security utilizes 20 federal agencies and focuses on detecting early warnings of pandemics and biological threats, preventing outbreaks from becoming epidemics, and reducing the impact of epidemics. In the case of an outbreak or biological incident, the strategy will also work to restore community, the economy, and the environment. Further, it lays out plans for “moonshot” efforts such as using next-generation technologies to transform early warning of pathogens, launching diagnostics for new pathogens within 12 hours of an outbreak, and developing vaccines within 100 days. Last week, the Biden administration released an outline of a broader national security strategy focusing on global challenges such as climate change and competition among major powers.

Racial Gap in Infant Deaths After Fertility Treatment

As reported by The Associated Press, a study published in Pediatrics found racial disparities in infant deaths following fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and fertility drugs. After analyzing more than 7 million US births in 2016 and 2017, including more than 93,000 births resulting from fertility treatments, the study authors found the rate of infant deaths within 4 weeks after birth was 4 times higher in babies born to Black women who used IVF compared with babies born to White women who used IVF. Among infants born without the use of fertility treatments, infant deaths were twice as likely among Black mothers compared with White mothers. Additionally, White mothers were much more likely to use fertility treatments compared with mothers of other racial groups, and some experts not involved with the study suggest these outcomes may be a result of Black women not getting the same level of care during and after pregnancy.

Global Leaders Pledge $2.6 Billion to Eradicate Polio

Global leaders pledged to end polio by committing a total of $2.6 billion toward the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s 2022-2026 Strategy at the World Health Summit, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported. This marks the first major wave of pledges contributing toward the $4.8 billion needed to fully implement the strategy, which, if fully funded and leads to the eradication of polio, is estimated to result in $33.1 billion in health care cost savings within this century compared with the costs of controlling polio outbreaks. Additionally, continued support of the strategy will allow for increased access to health services and immunizations alongside polio vaccines for underserved communities. More than 3000 scientists and health experts from 115 countries have endorsed the strategy, calling for donors to stay committed to funding the eradication of polio. The highest lone pledge made was $1.2 billion from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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