The US may have inadvertently increased the risk of a biological attack

The United States is far more vulnerable to bioterrorism attacks than it should be, according to a major report released October 28. Worse still, some of our own research into bioweapons — along with some serious biosecurity failures — could make us even more vulnerable to an attack using viruses and bacteria to infect large numbers of people.

As former senator Joseph Lieberman and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, the two co-chairs of the committee behind the report, point out in an editorial in The Philadelphia Inquirer, “safety and security lapses in our nation’s laboratories involving agents like anthrax” have led to threats and problems in the US.

They’re mostly referring to incidents where government labs accidentally exposed employees to anthrax and potentially deadly pathogens were uncovered in improperly secured locations. But these aren’t the only internal risks.

Improperly secured biological agents and the growing number of people able to work with them could pose another deadly threat.

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