The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense concluded that the U.S. is unprepared for a biological or chemical weapons attack and lacks the infrastructure necessary to detect such an attack.
The panel, consisting of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), former Sen. Joe Lieberman, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, former Sen. Tom Daschle, former Rep. Jim Greenwood and the Honorable Kenneth Wainstein, concluded the third of four meetings on the subject.
“Our legislative and executive branches are not capable of producing an effective reaction to an eventual biological threat,” Whitehouse said in a press release. “The Blue Ribbon Study Panel is addressing a vital issue that government hasn’t been able to rally behind.”
The third meeting consisted of the warnings and discussions about how to improve surveillance for biological and chemical threats.
In one panel session, representatives from New York City, Indianapolis, Texas A&M University and the Alliance for Biosecurity presented recommendations for responding to chemical and biological attacks. Those included developing stronger partnerships between government and pharmaceutical companies to create faster reactions to biothreats. And they recommended more vigilance in developing vaccines to protect against bioterror.
In a keynote address, William Karesh, executive vice president of the EcoHealth Alliance, reminded that chemical and biological threats endanger animals and livestock as well as humans. “Humans and livestock can’t be discussed in isolation anymore,” he said. “There is just one health and one solution to stop such a cataclysmic event.”
The panel will produce a report this spring that will:
“Our world is threatened more so than ever today by terrorist groups like ISIS, who can create undetectable immediate threats” Ridge said. “Our government is delusional to think we can get by without a strong biodefense policy.”