The official dedication and ribbon cutting for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan on Thursday is very welcome news. It also makes me feel old since the process to get here has taken nearly the entirety of my adult life.
Also known as NBAF, the facility is a state-of-the-art lab that will research animal diseases that can also infect humans and develop vaccines and anti-virals for some very nasty bugs. The facility is the replacement of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center off the coast of New York, which is more than six decades old. NBAF will investigate diseases like African Swine Fever, Nipah Virus, and foot and mouth disease (FMD), among others.
FMD is among the most contagious, infectious diseases in the world, and an outbreak in the U.S. would cost billions of dollars to the livestock industry alone. Vaccines exist for individual strains, but there’s so many different varieties it’s impossible to fully protect against.