Investing in Manhattan: NBAF could play major role in being prepared and battle future pandemics

Coronavirus

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) — How can we be better prepared in the future if another virus like this comes to light? That’s a question many people are asking right now.

The answer, in some ways, could be found right in Manhattan.

As the $1.25 billion National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility starts to wrap up construction, our attention turns its way.

The mission behind NBAF is to protect the United States against transboundary, emerging, and zoonotic animal diseases that threaten our food supply, agricultural economy and public health.

Scientists believe the novel coronavirus likely started in bats.

While NBAF will be studying pathogens that can start in animals but can be transferred to humans, and in turn threaten our food supply and agricultural economy, it’s facilities like this one that can help study the pathogens before they happen.

“Develop[ing] the expertise to properly predict what will be the next pathogen that will transmit from humans to animals,” NBAF director Dr. Alfonso Clavijo said. “So the science at NBAF will help us to develop those tools that will help predict what will be the next pandemic, what will be the next virus.”

“NBAF has the potential to do a lot of that research that can provide some of that baseline research that hopefully through collaborations will help be better prepared,” NBAF coordinator Dr. Ken Burton said.

The goal of NBAF is to study those pathogens and develop expertise and scientists’ knowledge before the virus’ even starts. 

NBAF is expected to be fully operational in late 2023. 

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