The Biden administration said today it is creating a new Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy (OPPR) to lead and coordinate Federal government efforts to prepare for and respond to any future threats similar in scope to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new OPPR, the White House said, will prep the government for the impact of any “known and unknown biological threats or pathogens that could lead to a pandemic or to significant public health-related disruptions in the United States.”

The new organization will “take over the duties of the current COVID-19 Response Team and Mpox Team at the White House and will continue to coordinate and develop policies and priorities related to pandemic preparedness and response.” The OPPR will be a permanent office in the Executive Office of the President.

The new office also will continue ongoing work to “address potential public health outbreaks and threats from COVID-19, Mpox, polio, avian and human influenza, and RSV,” the White House said.

Heading the new office will be retired Major Gen. Paul Friedrichs. He is now special assistant to the president and senior director for global health security and biodefense at the White House National Security Council. Before that, Friedrichs was joint staff surgeon and medical advisor to the Defense Department’s COVID-19 Task Force.

Central to the OPPR’s mission will be driving “Federal science and technology efforts related to pandemic preparedness,” including overseeing efforts to develop and procure “the next generation of medical countermeasures, including leveraging emerging technologies and working with HHS on next generation vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and other public health threats,” the White House said today.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.