Biological Agents

FOI conduct research to strengthen the national capacity to deal with the threat of biological weapons. FOI provides national expert competence before, during and after intentional release of biological agents.

Lab work

FOI researchers cover a broad range of activities within threat assessment and biodefence in support for the Swedish total defence and Sweden's international commitments in the area. Our largest commission originates from the Swedish Ministry of Defence while other assignmenst originates from The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, The Swedish Armed Forces, The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, The Swedish Police as well as various national and international research counsils, research funds and the private sector.

Research and activity areas

Threat assessment and research

Gloves holding a delicate sample
FOI assesses the biological weapons threat, for example by following technology development and intelligence information. Based on the assessed future needs of biodefence, FOI conducts research and development, often in collaboration with national and international universities and defence research institutets. Research projects are the basis for FOI's expert role within CBRN defence and security. The expertise can be utilized in the Swedish total defence, i.e. both military and civilian actors with preparedness responsibility in the event of disease outbreaks or biological incidents. FOI can also act operationally during the management of an ongoing incident if responsible actors request support.

Disarmament, non-proliferation and verification

test tubes

FOI provides the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs wih support in disaramament and non-proliferation matters, mainly related to the work within the B-weapons convention and the export control regime of the Australia Group. FOI is actively working to improve the ability to verify the use of biological weapons, with the aim to support the UN Secretary-General's mechanism which can be invoked if a country suspects exposure to biological (or chemical) weapons.

Swedish total defence

FOI develops expertise to be able to support the Swedish total defence, i.e. both the military and the civil defence. At FOI, research and development is conducted to strengthen protection against and reduce the risk of possible use of biological weapons. Areas of focus include methods for improved analytical ability and early indication of infectious agents in the environment, research on transmission routes for infectious agents, modelling the spread of infections to dimension measures and testing of personal protective equipment. This work rely on FOI's unique interdisiplinary competences in various scientific fields.The overall goal is to contribute to strengthen the Swedish total defence in the form of improved protection against biological weapons. This is achieved by close collaboration with military and civilian actors responsible for managing disease outbreaks and biological events.

Some examples of networks where FOI has an expert role

CBRN – High Security Laboratory

FOI’s CBRN – High Security Laboratory is one of Europe’s few security-classed CBRN laboratories authorised to receive and investigate all dangerous substances (both chemical, biological and radio nuclear) with operational routines cooperating with the Swedish Police. This includes maintaining Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) laboratories, modern instrumentation and methodology.

International laboratory networks

FOI is an active participant in developing a network of biological laboratories to provide support for investigations into the intentional use of biological weapons, within the frame of the United Nations Secretary General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged use of Chemical and Biological Weapons External link, opens in new window. (UNSGM). External link, opens in new window.

Forum for Biopreparedness Diagnostics (FBD)

The Forum for Biopreparedness Diagnostics is a collaboration between four Swedish authorities – the Public Health Agency of Sweden, the Swedish National Veterinary Institute, the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), and the Swedish Food Agency – with the purpose of enhancing Swedish laboratory preparedness. The authorities are highly complementary; jointly, their areas of responsibility cover a broad range of competence in public health, veterinary medicine, animal feed, food (including drinking water) and CBRN security. In recent years, the Police and the Swedish Armed Forces have participated in the network's jont projects.

Search for reports from the Forum for Biopreparedness Diagnostics (FBD) External link, opens in new window.. External link, opens in new window.


Last updated: 2023-08-07