Pandemic reveals US and UK vulnerability to bioterrorism threat
US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — US and British experts told NBC News about the vulnerability of their countries to terrorist attacks using biological weapons. According to them, the situation with COVID-19 has shown that the available means of protection and detection of dangerous pathogens are not enough, while the sources of threats over the past decade have become more.
The coronavirus pandemic may reveal a serious national security problem. According to experts, she showed how vulnerable the US and Europe are to biological attacks. NBC correspondent Will Marx will tell you more about the risks.
WILLIAM MARKS, NBC News International Correspondent : We spoke on this subject with the staff of the last three administrations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. They spoke about the vulnerabilities identified by this pandemic. One of these is the very expected things: depleted stocks of protective equipment, insufficient testing, inability to quickly create vaccines.
But other issues were mentioned, much more complex and rooted deep in the history of the American model of protection against biological threats. This dates back to 2001, to letters with anthrax. Many of the people I spoke to claim that BioWatch, a surveillance system that must detect bacteria and other pathogens that can be transported as an aerosol in the environment, is still not ready to carry out its tasks and requires a very serious technical upgrade to be appropriate. Because now she can’t work in real time.
There are also big concerns for laboratory safety. We heard a lot about the virology institute in Wuhan, the Trump administration said that the virus came from this laboratory. According to experts, the difficulty is that the number of such laboratories, known as “laboratories of the fourth level of biological safety”, has risen sharply over the past ten years. And this is associated with an increased risk: one of the employees may maliciously take out biological weapons from there, and there may also be accidents with the leakage of these pathogens that are dangerous to our health.
In addition, it is very problematic that all this pandemic and the catastrophic damage from it can, in the words of a former representative of the British armed forces engaged in the defense against biological threats, become a “neon sign” for potential terrorists.
I am located at building MI5, there is a special police structure involved in the safety of laboratories in the United Kingdom. The former director of this structure told me that he was most worried that an employee (laboratory. – ed.) would not purposefully steal and spread dangerous pathogens.
So what is the solution to this problem? Targeted financing, technological improvements and, of course, vigilant vigilance. The person in charge of this at the US Department of Health and Human Services told me that the preparedness regime will never end.
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