Today, the House Intelligence Committee released a declassified report examining the Intelligence Community's response to the COVID-19 pandemic following a two-year investigation. The report examines the IC's posture to support global health security policymakers, the IC's performance in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the steps the IC must take to strengthen any future pandemic response.
The report details how the Intelligence Community was not well positioned or prepared to provide early warning and unique insights on the pandemic due to an inconsistent focus on health security and pandemics as a national security threat. However, by the end of January, the IC was providing clear and consistent warning about a potential pandemic – including a classified briefing to the Intelligence Committee in mid-February – well in advance of former President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on March 13, 2020.
“The COVID-19 pandemic presented our Intelligence Community, and our world, with an unprecedented challenge,” said Chairman Schiff. “In preparing this report, our Committee examined how the IC performed its core missions at the outset of the pandemic and, even more critically, how the IC can be better prepared to respond to future global health crises. The millions of individuals lost to COVID-19 cannot be brought back – but we can and must honor their memory by ensuring that we never again suffer a crisis of this magnitude.”
In addition to its investigative findings, the report provides a suite of classified and unclassified recommendations that aim to hone the IC's ability to respond to future pandemics. The Committee's unclassified recommendations include:
1. The creation of a designated center in ODNI with a global health security mission;
2. Major investments in open-source intelligence;
3. Enhancements to the IC's capability to pivot collection faster when a new disease emerges;
4. Additional resources and support for NCMI;
5. Better collaboration and integration of the IC with public health agencies;
6. Recognition that health security is national security;
7. Additional steps to create a sustainable demand signal for collection on global health security.
To read the full declassified report, click here. To read the declassified list of recommendations, click here.