Tom Daschle and Susan Brooks: The dangerous thread connecting avian flu, COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine

As former elected officials from Midwestern states, we are heartsick watching farmers across the region destroy millions of chickens infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza because, frankly, they have no other choice.

The last time this disease struck the United States in 2015, our country detected infections in 21 states, spent $879 million to respond to the epidemic and depopulated more than 50 million birds on 232 farms. The total estimated cost to the U.S. economy was $3.3 billion. Seven years later, our country still seems unable to do much more than respond by culling large numbers of birds again, costing farmers dearly and driving up the cost of food at a time when inflation is already at a record high.

Avian influenza and COVID-19 painfully remind us of how disruptive and destructive biological events can be to our public health, economy and national security. And now the Russian invasion of Ukraine is yet another stark reminder of how our adversaries may use biological weapons to attack humanity.

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