New Manhattan Project needed to fight bioterror

Perception does not equal reality, especially when it comes to the United States’ continued war on terror, according to an editorial written by Martin Seif on a blog site.

Seif cited a February report released by the National Biodefense Science Board, an advisory panel to the Department of Health and Human Services. In that report, the U.S. government received several failing grades for lack of preparedness and overall ability to respond to respond to a biological or radiological terrorist attack.

Seif also blasted the government’s seeming inability to do away with bureaucracy and to work with big business and noted that the NBSB’s report stated that a close cooperation between industry and government to develop bio-war defenses had to be on a scale comparable to building aircraft carriers, putting men on the moon or funding the Manhattan Project that created the atomic bomb.

“With adequate resources and effective leadership, the various agencies of the U.S. Government can work together and harness the expertise of the private sector in ways similar to those used to produce aircraft carriers, land men on the moon, and accomplish other 'Manhattan Projects,” the NBSB said.

Seif also noted that problem hasn’t gotten any better under the Obama administration.

“Since President Obama took over, things haven't got any better,” Seif wrote. “The H1N1 swine flu vaccine ordered last fall was delivered way behind schedule. The death rate from swine flu was relatively low. But for a more serious attack, especially one deliberately delivered as biological warfare, that kind of delay would cause millions of lives. Work on a second generation anthrax vaccine is also way behind schedule.”