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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Evolution of Influenza Preparedness during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Author: Kristin L DeBord, PhD,Director, Strategy Division, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 6/29/2020 1:12:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Medical Countermeasures; National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

New Federal Strategy Brings Continued Focus to Modernizing the Domestic Development and Manufacturing of Life-Saving Influenza Vaccines

On September 19, 2019, President Trump issued an executive order calling on public and private partners to modernize influenza vaccines to strengthen national security and public health. Today, I am proud to announce that the National Influenza Vaccine Modernization Strategy 2020-2030 has been released.  This strategy is aimed at building domestic capacity and capability through the use of new technologies to speed up the overall  Read more…

Why sepsis solutions can help COVID-19 patients

Author: Kimberly Sciarretta, Ph.D., BARDA DRIVe Solving Sepsis Program Manager, and Meghan Pennini, Ph.D., Solving Sepsis Project Officer
Published Date: 6/22/2020 3:02:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Medical Countermeasures; National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;


Assessing sepsis predictive technologies to aid in the pandemic response

In the current pandemic, ICUs worldwide are caring for COVID-19 patients with life-threatening multiple organ dysfunction, in other words, sepsis. This trend provides a stark reminder that sepsis is likely to arise as a secondary confounder of any health security threat, whether in the current coronavirus pandemic or a future public health emergency.

BARDA focuses on developing safe, effective medical countermeasures, such as vaccines, trea  Read more…

Honey! I just saved a life! Donating blood or plasma can help you save a life in your community

Author: Patrick Vongchan, Emergency Management Specialist, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 6/12/2020 6:14:00 PM
Category:

Saving someone’s life can be pretty simple.  As a volunteer EMT and firefighter in my community, I have gone through a lot of training so I can provide life-saving care when seconds count. I am proud to serve on the frontlines of the response to COVID-19, both in my volunteer role and as a responder from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Yet you don’t necessarily have to do all of that to help people in your community.  Sometimes, all you need to do is dedicate a little time - and be willing to give up about a half a liter of your blood. A si  Read more…

Hurricane Season 2020: Preparing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Author: Laura Kwinn Wolf, Ph.D., Director, Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 6/11/2020 8:55:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

As we enter this year’s hurricane season, our nation has been battling a raging storm of a different type for the past five months – Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) community has tirelessly worked to provide care, move resources, and identify measures for treatment and prevention. With the first official day of the 2020 Atlantic and Pacific hurricane season on June 1, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting above-normal storm activity, the HPH community must look at how to prepare for a unique hurricane response seaso  Read more…

emPOWER AI: Harnessing the Power of Artificial Intelligence to Drive Data to Frontline Emergency Responders

Author: Kristen P. Finne, Director, HHS emPOWER Program and Senior Program Analyst, Office of Emergency Management and Medical Operations, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 6/4/2020 2:59:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

In an emergency response, timing is everything. As hurricane and wildfire season gets underway, think back to the 2017 historic hurricanes and wildfires which presented new challenges not only for the scale but also for the impact to critical infrastructure. To help those on the frontline and some of our country’s most vulnerable citizens, emPOWER had to innovate and offer a tool that could deliver data with minimal actions and in seconds.

Three years ago, responders and volunteers rapidly rostered and deployed to areas on the shores and hills of Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin I  Read more…

A Critical Time to be in Public Service: A Perspective from a Pair of Experienced Doctors Caring for COVID-19 Patients

Author: Timothy G. Buchman, MD, and Steven Q. Simpson, MD, BARDA/DRIVe
Published Date: 5/20/2020 11:44:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness;

As critical care physicians, we can think of no more important time to be in public service than now. Across the country, thousands of healthcare professionals and scientists - not only from the private sector but also in the public sector - are fighting to save lives amid the worst pandemic the world has seen in the last 100 years. We are honored to count ourselves among both groups.

As physicians we are treating COVID-19 patients in Intensive Care Units; as professors, we are teaching the next generation of critical care physicians, and while both roles are rewarding, we ar  Read more…

Raising Awareness: Many roads lead to sepsis, even for COVID-19 patients

Author: Timothy G. Buchman, MD, and Steven Q. Simpson, MD, BARDA/DRIVe
Published Date: 5/15/2020 5:30:00 PM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Response & Recovery;

COVID-19 patients who are ill enough to require admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), often suffer from a major organ dysfunction. As a pair of critical care physicians with more than 80 years of combined service at the bedside in the ICU, we have spent our entire professional lives caring for patients with life-threatening organ dysfunction resulting from infections. We recognize this condition; it’s called sepsis.

While the most widely reported organ dysfunction for COVID-19 patients involves the lungs, many of these patients also have some combination of heart  Read more…

Medical Reserve Corps volunteers’ hands felt at every level of the response to COVID-19

Author: Esmeralda Pereira, Medical Reserve Corps Program Director
Published Date: 4/24/2020 4:33:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery; Observances;

A volunteer nurse gathers nasal swabs at a drive-through testing site in Bremerton, Washington. A team delivers food to vulnerable community members in Framingham, Massachusetts. A unit in Columbus, Ohio, conducts temperature checks and assists at a shelter for homeless community members who test positive for coronavirus or COVID-19. Volunteers in New Mexico assemble and pack boxes for food banks. In each community, neighbors, coworkers, kids’ schoolteachers, and patients recognize them.

All have one thing in common: They are volunteers with the Read more…

Virtual Wedding Bells

Author: By: Bryan Hanley, DTL, Medical Branch Director, Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT CA-9) deployed to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, National Disaster Medical System, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 3/19/2020 7:36:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

Disaster Medical Assistance Team Helps Unite Father under Quarantine with his Daughter on her Wedding Day

At quarantine sites across the country, some passengers from the Grand Princess are missing important milestones as they wait out their quarantine, but responders from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) are committed to making things a little bit easier for them. Earlier this month, NDMS responders helped a dad who was not able to be physically present virtually walk his daughter down the aisle while he was in quarantine. 

  Read more…

BARDA Leverages Strong Public-Private Partnerships to Spur a Rapid Response to the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

Author: Rick A. Bright, Ph.D., BARDA Director and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 2/22/2020 10:35:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness;

Unprecedented Speed in the Medical Countermeasure Response to an Emerging Threat

On January 31, 2019, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a nationwide public health emergency in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Three days later, BARDA entered into the first in a series of expanded public-private partnerships to develop a new medical countermeasure. BARDA is acting with unprecedented speed to initiate research and development to spur innovative medical countermeasures to fight the 2019 novel coronavirus. 

In less than a   Read more…

Sepsis is Skyrocketing in the Medicare Population

Author: Rick A. Bright, Ph.D., BARDA Director and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 2/15/2020 9:19:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness;

New study reveals the shocking frequency, cost, and mortality of sepsis


A recent study sponsored by HHS has returned some sobering findings: a 40 percent increase in the rate of sepsis-related hospital admissions among Medicare beneficiaries between 2012 and 2018 and as a result, costs are soaring despite a decreasing inpatient stay cost per patient.

These findings, from the largest known sepsis study of Medicare beneficiaries ever recorded in the United States, ring a warning bell for the health of every American and for our healthcare system as a who  Read more…

New Pandemic Influenza Vaccine Uses Next Generation Technology to Strengthen Health Security

Author: Rick A. Bright, Ph.D., BARDA Director and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 2/3/2020 10:32:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness;

Innovative FDA-licensed vaccine and domestic manufacturing capacity investment bolster domestic pandemic preparedness

On January 31, 2020, we achieved a major milestone in pandemic influenza preparedness:  the U.S Food and Drug Administration’s licensure of AUDENZTM, the first adjuvanted, cell-based influenza vaccine designed to protect our nation from the H5N1 avian influenza virus.  AUDENZTM, which was developed by Seqirus with support from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) within the Office o  Read more…

The skyrocketting need for speed: partnering to develop rapid diagnostic tests that protect patients from antibiotic resistant infections during disasters and every day

Author: Rick Bright, Ph.D., BARDA Director and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 1/8/2020 1:32:00 PM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness; Innovations;

Relatively minor injuries, like a cut that I got while gardening, can quickly become more serious if they become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Today, doctors often don’t have the diagnostic tests needed to inform patient care, and the tests that do exist may take too long to provide results. Without this vital information, doctors don’t have the information they need to ensure patients are getting the right antibiotics, serve as good stewards of antibiotics to prevent resistance, or when   Read more…

Resolving to Be Ready to Protect Critical Infrastructure

Author: Laura Kwinn Wolf, Ph.D., Director, ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection
Published Date: 1/3/2020 11:38:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;


Three Ways for Public Health and Medical Professionals to Enhance Preparedness


As we look forward into 2020, many of us are taking a moment to pause and consider what is coming in the next year. If you are a health care or public health professional, there is a very real chance you could be called on to respond to a disaster or emergency. In 2019, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued one hundred disaster declarations across the 48 continental United States and territories. If a disaster strikes in your community, are you ready to respond?<  Read more…

Making history: the world’s first FDA-approved Ebola vaccine

Author: Robert Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 12/19/2019 7:31:00 PM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Public-private partners collaborate to prevent the spread of a global health threat

Today, we achieved a historic milestone in global health security with the approval of ERVEBO®, the first vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Administration (FDA) for the prevention of the Ebola virus disease (EVD). A safe and effective vaccine is a vital tool in combatting the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is the second largest outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976. Today’s approval by the FDA, which follows last month’s Europ  Read more…

The health security threat in my backyard: how my garden proved that the U.S. needs more, rapid, diagnostics for antimicrobial resistant infections

Author: Rick Bright, Ph.D., BARDA Director and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 12/17/2019 1:53:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Medical Countermeasures; Hospital Preparedness;

Although a range of health security threats - from bad actors to new infectious diseases - loom and are always emerging, I fell victim to a threat in my own backyard: an antibiotic resistant infection. To complicate matters, I couldn’t get an accurate diagnosis until it was almost too late. But the delayed diagnosis didn’t just threaten my health – it also added to healthcare costs, led to the misguided use of antibiotics, and potentially threatened the health of other patients in a hospital.

Last year, I cut my thumb while gardening. At first, I didn’t think much about  Read more…

Preparing for the Next Pandemic

Author: Robert Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 12/10/2019 3:38:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Observances; Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness;

End-to-end Solutions to Combat Next Influenza Pandemic

Last year, many of us paused to recognize the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic that infected approximately one third of the world’s population and killed at least 50 million people. Yet influenza outbreaks and pandemics are not just some footnote of history. In just the last decade, we have faced three serious influenza-related incidents: a severe flu season in 2017 claimed the lives of 79,000 people,  Read more…

Giving Your Community Health, Warmth and Resilience

Author: Jennifer Frenette, Region 1 Liaison, HHS/ASPR Medical Reserve Corps.
Published Date: 11/27/2019 7:26:00 AM
Category: Observances; Public Health Preparedness;

MRC Volunteers Strengthen Communities during the Holiday Season and Beyond

The holiday season is a time for giving. We spend hours (sometimes weeks, months…) searching for and picking out the perfect gifts for friends and family. Many of us donate to non-profits and charitable organizations. We even give to ourselves – often taking important time off to unwind and connect with our loved ones.

  Read more…

There’s No Such Thing as Just-in-time Healthcare and Public Health Preparedness

Author: CDR Thomas J (TJ) Christl, Branch Chief of the Infrastructure Analysis and Partnerships Branch in the HHS/ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Rachel Lehman Stakeholder Engagement Policy Analyst of the Infrastructure Analysis and Partnerships Branch in the HHS/ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection
Published Date: 11/25/2019 11:25:00 AM
Category: Cyber Security; National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

How to Create and Strengthen Partnerships to Enhance Critical Infrastructure Protection

What does it take to provide patient care? The image of a hospital or doctor’s office just popped into your mind, right? Well, that’s just part of the answer.

Every day, patients rely on complex just-in-time systems for the provision of healthcare. These systems include not only hospitals and other healthcare providers, but also insurance providers, laboratories, medical device suppliers, and more.

Working together, these systems can provide just-in-time supplies  Read more…

Take a Shot at Decreasing Hospital Acquired Infections and Enhancing National Health Security

Author: Domestic Policy Branch, HHS/ASPR Office of Strategy, Policy, Planning and Requirements
Published Date: 11/6/2019 10:18:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness;

A Case for Encouraging Seasonal Influenza Vaccination among Healthcare Workers


Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed approximately 675,000 people in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Although that number is daunting, it doesn't take a pandemic for influenza to seriously threaten patient health.  The disease burden for seasonal flu is still stunning 100  Read more…

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