Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy

Biosecurity and human health: preparing for emerging infectious diseases and bioweapons inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Due to the general election on 12 December 2019 the Committee has now closed this inquiry. Following the dissolution of Parliament on 6 November, all Select Committees will cease to exist until after the general election. If an inquiry on this subject is held in the future, the Committee may refer to the evidence already gathered as part of this inquiry.

Scope of the inquiry

One year after the publication of the Government’s first ever Biosecurity Strategy, the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy is to inquire into the Government’s approach to biosecurity and human health.

The strategy is intended to coordinate a cross-government approach to biosecurity threats, whether they materialise naturally, accidentally or deliberately in the form of a malicious attack. It cites globalisation and technology as key factors in today’s biosecurity risks.
 
The Government has long prioritised public health as a national security issue, with pandemics and emerging infectious diseases categorised as a top-tier risk in the 2010 and 2015 National Security Risk Assessments.

Attacks using biological weapons are categorised as a second-tier risk, along with attacks using chemical, radiological and nuclear weapons.

In 2018, the Government’s National Security Capability Review elevated “diseases and natural hazards affecting the UK” to one of six principal challenges likely to drive national security priorities over the coming decade.

Terms of reference

Next meeting(s)

There are currently no public meetings scheduled.

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