At EAGxBoston in April, I attended his talk of the same name (embedded below for those who prefer video format). I found it to be a great introduction to the current state of pandemic preparedness/GCBR. It has now been published as a paper by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. I had some trouble finding it even on their website, so it seemed worth linkposting here. Executive summary and key takeaways are reproduced below.
The world is demonstrably vulnerable to the introduction of a single pandemic virus with a comparatively low case fatality rate. The deliberate and simultaneous release of many pandemic viruses across travel hubs could threaten the stability of civilisation. Current trends suggest that within a decade, tens of thousands of skilled individuals will be able to access the information required for them to single-handedly cause new pandemics. Safeguarding civilisation from the catastrophic misuse of biotechnology requires delaying the development and misuse of pandemic-class agents while building systems capable of reliably detecting threats and preventing nearly all infections.
- We don't yet know of any credible viruses that could cause new pandemics, but ongoing research projects aim to publicly identify them.
- Identifying a sequenced virus as pandemic-capable will allow >1,000 individuals to assemble it.
- One person with a list of such viruses could simultaneously ignite multiple pandemics.
- Viruses can spread faster than vaccines or antivirals can be distributed.
- Pandemic agents are more lethal than nuclear devices and will be accessible to terrorists.
- A pandemic test-ban treaty will delay proliferation without slowing beneficial advances.
- Liability and insurance for catastrophic outcomes will compensate for negative externalities.
- Secure and universal DNA synthesis screening can reduce unauthorised access by >100-fold.
- Untargeted sequencing can reliably detect all exponentially spreading biological threats
Goal: eliminate the virus while providing food, water, power, law
enforcement, and healthcare
- Develop and distribute pandemic-proof protective equipment for all essential workers
- Comfortable, stylish, durable powered respirators must be proven to work reliably
- Foster resilient supply chains, local production, and behavioural outbreak control
- Strengthen systems and offer individualised early warning to block transmission
- Develop and install germicidal low-wavelength lights, which appear to be harmless to humans
- Overhead fixtures can reduce airborne and surface pathogens by >90 per cent in seconds