Coronavirus Pandemic Stands to Force Changes in U.S. Spy Services

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A Covid-19 patient in a Connecticut hospital in April. The Biden administration has pledged to step up the government’s ability to prepare for biological dangers.

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John Moore/Getty Images

By

Michael R. Gordon
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Michael R. Gordon

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michael.gordon@wsj.com

and

Warren P. Strobel
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Warren P. Strobel

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@wstrobel

Warren.Strobel@wsj.com

Nov. 22, 2020 5:30 am ET

WASHINGTON—U.S. intelligence agencies have long failed to make detecting global pandemics a priority, current and former U.S. officials say, posing a challenge for the incoming Biden administration, which has pledged to step up the government’s ability to prepare for biological dangers.

In the wake of a global pandemic that has killed more than 250,000 Americans, there is growing support among President-elect Joe Biden’s advisers for broadening the definition of national security within spy and defense agencies and upgrading their ability to detect, analyze and respond to pandemics.

“We are looking at whether our intelligence resources are appropriately focused on something that’s very important,” said a senior foreign-policy adviser to Mr. Biden.

Congress, which is likely to hold hearings next year on the U.S. response to the pandemic, is also taking a closer look …

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