08.03.17

Bioterrorism defense bust? Not cost-effective

Posted in Bioterrorism, Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 3:12 pm by George Smith

Long-term readers know the story of bioterrorism research in the United States. There was nothing that could not be funded because bioterror was inevitable and imminent. It was easy for bioterrorists to do.

Allegedly.

Fifteen years on from the anthrax mailings the US has still had only one bioterrorist.

Bruce Ivins — who was an anthrax expert from the heart of the bioterror defense establishment at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

From the Fredericksburg< Maryland, newspaper in May of this year:

A research laboratory in Frederick with few peers across the country would be closed under the proposed budget from President Donald Trump.

While the overall spending for the Department of Homeland Security increases in Trump’s budget request, that department also zeroes out funding for the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) at Fort Detrick.

The news was shared in an all-staff meeting at NBACC this week after a letter from DHS confirmed an intent to shutter the laboratory by September 2018. According to the letter, all scientific research should end by March 2018 …

The NBACC is the crown jewel in the country’s elaborate and most secret network of biodefense laboratories.

The suggestion that it be closed by 2018, considering the history of its development, is nothing less than jaw-dropping.

Still, the NBACC is just criticized for failing to live up to expectations. There has been no bioterrorism and its capability is most fallow. At the time of its genesis critics argued, unsuccessfully, that the spending earmarked for it could be served equally or better by investing it in public health.

The historical context now is that a decade and a half shows bioterrorism is exceedingly difficult to mount. And other publich health threats have emerged into fully blown crises.

Death by opioid overdose now claims 33,000 lives a year, mostly a result of the widespread presence of fentanyl, a compound 50 times more powerful than morphine.

Ricin, the poison found in castor seeds and a compound the NBACC was developed to research and analyze, cannot compare to fentanyl as an active everyday public health threat.

“About 180 people work in the facility, with $21 million in annual salary and benefits and $4.5 million in annual subcontracting spending,” reads the Fredericksburg Post.

“The cut to NBACC could reflect shifting homeland security priorities under the Trump administration — in particular, the president’s call for a barrier along the Mexico border and increased border security. Overall, the Homeland Security budget increased 6.8 percent in the 2018 budget request.”

The border wall. Anti-immigration in. Bioterrorism defense after a very long run and, fortunately, non-production, is out. The differences between 2017 and 2001 could not be more stark. The NBACC’s contract was last renewed by President Obama and it is one of seven, mostly secret, such labs in the country.


Middletown, Ohio, a city under siege: ‘Everyone I know is on heroin’ — a remarkable news story on the opioid crisis in Middletown, Ohio. I direct readers to the set of graphics in which the increase in lethal overdose incidence is mapped by county, from 2010-2015. It is an astonishing and troubling ilustration of a country, primarily the rust belt and greater northeast rotting to death before your eyes.

By contrast, the hazard of bioterrorism is nonexistent.


On the NBACC, related labs and defense spending:

The country way over-invested in bioterror defense in the wake of 9/11. Free money went out for almost a decade. No results were required and none were furnished. During the time the public was bombarded with assertions that catastrophic bioterror attacks were easy to mount and likely.

None of the claims of the threat-mongers materialized. That’s zero.

Many of our most famous bioterror defense researchers grew wealthy during a period when millions of other Americans saw their economic futures languish or go up in smoke. Infrastructure repair and spending for the public good shriveled but national security spending ballooned.

The NBACC — here.

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