Friday, May 7, 2021

Operational Medicine is a U.S. government "elite expeditionary medical force that you have almost certainly never heard of"

Adam Ciralsky writing for Vanity Fair:

At 29, the biochemist and virologist has spent much of her professional life indoors, where the U.S. government has entrusted her to handle some of the world’s most lethal pathogens—including Ebola, Lassa fever, and Nipah viruses—at top-secret Biosafety Level Four facilities. “I shower six times a day,” she tells me.


With codenames straight out of a spy or superhero franchise—Guardian, Sentinel, Anodyne, Hemlock, Solitude, Erudite, Presidium, and Fanion—the scope and solemnity of their work is vast


From repatriating Americans—held hostage in places like Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Yemen—to averting a Benghazi redux when U.S. embassies are in the crosshairs, OpMed has responded to hundreds of crises. As one operative put it, “If you are overseas and something were to happen, we’re probably the ones coming to get you.”


“I remember the first time we talked, he said something like, ‘It’s going to feel like nothing is happening and then all of a sudden, it’s going to be a go. And so, I just need you to be prepared for that.’ And he was absolutely right. It felt like nothing was happening. And then all of a sudden, he and his team have put together this elaborate plan to go and get my dad.”