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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios 

Not all security threats are born from bad intentions. U.S. and global leaders aren't paying nearly enough attention to the threat from infectious disease, contends Lisa Monaco, homeland security adviser to President Obama:

"As Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor, I worried about bad actors doing something awful with a bomb, a piece of malware or a pathogen. But in the case of pandemics, the more likely scenario is not a bad guy with a bug, but a naturally occurring infectious disease like we saw with Ebola in 2014, or worse yet, a new strain of flu."

"Amazingly, in 2018 — the 100th anniversary of the Spanish flu that wiped out 50-100 million people worldwide — the World Economic Forum left this threat off its list of top 5 global risks and our own intelligence community left it off its latest Worldwide Threat Assessment." 

  • "Even though it's cheaper and easier to contain disease at its source rather than waiting for it to hop a ride on one of the millions of worldwide airline flights, the post-Ebola investments made to be sure we weren’t caught flat-footed for the next public health crisis have been slashed."

Why it matters: "With rising populations, growing mega-cities, and rapid global travel that saw more than 1 billion international tourist arrivals in 2015 alone — a new strain of deadly flu will make 1918 look like a walk in the park." 

Go deeper

Exclusive: Biden administration raises minimum wage for federal employees to $15

A poster demanding a federal $15-per-hour minimum wage seen near the White House in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 26, 2021. Photo: Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal agencies are being directed to raise the minimum wages for government employees to $15 an hour, according to new guidance from the Office of Personnel Management shared first with Axios.

Why it matters: The guidance will impact almost 70,000 federal employees, most of which work at the Departments of Agriculture, Defense and Veterans Affairs. OMP is directing agencies to implement the new wage by Jan. 30.

26 mins ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron’s blitz around the globe has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.