NTI Experts Call for New Mechanism to Investigate High-Consequence Biological Events of Unknown Origin

NTI Senior Advisor and former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Management and High Representative for Disarmament Angela Kane, NTI | bio Vice President Dr. Jaime Yassif, and Biosecurity Policy Fellow Shayna Korol make the case for establishing a new mechanism to assess biological events of unknown origin in a recent article published by Asia-Pacific Leadership Network, “Establishing a Joint Assessment Mechanism for Enhanced Biosafety and Security.”

The world faces growing risks posed by both naturally-emerging and human-caused pandemics, but “while instruments exist to investigate naturally-occurring outbreaks as well as those suspected to be resulting from deliberate biological weapons use, there currently is no mechanism for assessing biological events of unknown origin,” the authors write.

Kane, Yassif, and Korol argue that NTI’s proposed Joint Assessment Mechanism (JAM) would fill that critical gap, because “ensuring seamless outbreak origin assessments means global decision makers can move faster and more decisively to minimize the health and economic effects of high-consequence biological events while guarding against future risks.”

The authors write that the JAM “could reinforce the considerable strengths of the Asia-Pacific region’s health security capacities, including its rapidly-growing biotechnology sector and its outbreak detection capabilities. While no one knows when or where the next high-consequence biological event will occur, having the capacity to establish the facts about an outbreak of unknown origin is critical to ensuring that the world is better prepared.”

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