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The Science and Technology Directorate’s COVID-19 Response

The Science and Technology Directorate’s COVID-19 Response

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology seal and logo. Battling The Invisible Enemy.  The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorat's COVID-19 Response. URL

The Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is harnessing the knowledge of its experts to help in response to COVID-19. It has focused its efforts on laboratory research and providing valuable resources to inform the broader response community and help keep front line responders safe. Highlights of S&T’s response efforts can be found in our Battling the Invisible Enemy report

Additional information on the overall DHS pandemic response can be found at

Master Question List and Current Research on COVID-19

The Master Question List

S&T has developed a quick reference guide with operationally relevant information for government decision makers. The Master Question List (MQL) covers what is known about the virus, what additional information is needed, and who may be working to address these fundamental questions. It removes the burden on response entities to review lengthy scientific reports by addressing key questions such as—how much of the virus will make a healthy individual ill? how does the virus spread?  The Directorate pushes updates of the MQL weekly.

COVID-19 Survivability and Decontamination Research

S&T’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) is conducting critical research on COVID-19. Researchers have initiated studies to understand the impact of environmental conditions on the virus—such as sunlight, temperature and humidity—to determine the virus’ survivability in the air, in respiratory fluids, and on various surfaces. S&T is supporting additional research on survivability of the virus in waste streams to inform guidance on preventing transmission in communities and homes. S&T’s PANTHR program continues its evaluation of decontamination methods to determine the most effective materials to clean and disinfect surfaces to rid them of the virus and is answering operationally relevant questions related to personal protective equipment, or PPE, decontamination and reuse.

Evaluation of Disinfectant Efficacy Against SARS-CoV-2

The Probabilistic Analysis of National Threats, Hazards and Risks (PANTHR) program is executing laboratory studies to evaluate a panel of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2. The summary report titled, “Evaluation of Disinfectant Efficacy Against SARS-CoV-2” provides an overview of emerging results with regard to disinfectants for SARS-CoV-2. 

Published Research on the Effects of Simulated Sunlight on SARS-CoV-2

NBACC has published research in The Journal of Infectious Diseases on simulated sunlight and its ability to inactive SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces. The study provides the first evidence that risk of exposure to the disease may vary significantly between indoor and outdoor environments. Additionally, the findings in this study indicate that natural sunlight may be effective as a disinfectant for contaminated nonporous materials.

SARS-CoV-2 Estimated Surface Decay Calculator

SARS-COV-2 Natural Decay CalculatorIn addition to being used to study decontamination options, NBACC’s research has been used to develop a predictive model to estimate virus decay on three non-porous surfaces under a limited range of environmental conditions, such as room temperature and relative humidity. The surfaces S&T is evaluating are stainless steel, ABS plastic (e.g. phones, computer keyboards, computer mouse), and nitrile rubber (e.g., disposable gloves). Future iterations will expand temperature range and surface comparisons.

SARS-CoV-2 Estimated Airborne Particles Decay Calculator

Airborne Decay  calculator of SARS-CoV-2NBACC data has been used to develop a predictive model to estimate virus decay in airborne particles, or aerosols, that mimic the respiratory droplets produced by talking, coughing, and sneezing. The resulting tool covers a limited range of temperature, relative humidity, and ultraviolet index (sunlight) conditions. The model will be updated as additional data on viral stability in airborne particles are generated.

COVID-19 Resources for First Responders and other Partners

Are you a first responder or partner looking for COVID-19 guidance from authoritative sources? Check out our consolidated list of resources to help inform and guide your actions.

S&T-Funded Technologies Deployed for Response Efforts

Several S&T-funded technologies are helping the response community respond to this pandemic. We will continue to update this page with relevant tools and tech.

The Information Sharing Assessment Tool (ISAT)

ISAT is a free, web-based self-assessment tool that S&T developed to help public safety and health agencies understand their most pressing information sharing capabilities and gaps. S&T recently integrated a Pandemic Scenario into the updated ISAT 2.0.

The Next Generation Incident Command System (NICS)

NICS is a web-based emergency response platform that enables first responders to coordinate effectively during crises. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme has been utilizing NICS in the Balkan Peninsula of North Macedonia to coordinate emergency services, inform the public about ongoing COVID-19 cases, and post locations of health resources.

Regional Information Sharing Portal (RISP)

RISP is an information sharing system that helps users make crucial decisions related to the movement of commodities and deploying resources in the field. Since the start of the pandemic, RISP users have been using it to identify resource statuses and needs; to pull resources together; and to deploy resources to where they are needed the most.

Single Automated Business Exchange for Reporting (SABER)

SABER is a free, open-source software that enables businesses to report their operating status both during and after a disaster. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, users have leveraged SABER’s capabilities to support effective response from the business and first response communities.

S&T Laboratories and Programs Working on COVID-19 Research

COVID-19 Multimedia and Press Materials

“If you look at the Coronavirus as a chain with many links, what we’ve done through our study is we’ve identified some of the weak links in that chain that the transmission of the virus depends upon. We’ve identified that heat and humidity is a weakness in that chain. We’ve identified that sunlight, solar light, UV rays is a weakness in that chain. That doesn’t take away from the other activities and guidelines from the White House, the guidance from the CDC, and others on the actions and steps that people need to take to protect themselves. This is just another tool on our tool belt. Another weapon in the fight, that we can add to it.” William N. Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of Science and Technology. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology seal and logo.

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