HHS seeks comments on its select agents and toxins list

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently called for comments on its list of select agents and toxins.

The comments, due by August 20, are part of a biennial review that is currently being conducted by HHS as part of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002.

The list is intended to include all toxins and agents that could pose a threat to public health and safety based on the effect of exposure, contagiousness, the method of acquisition, immunization effectiveness, weaponization potential and the threat it possesses to vulnerable portions of the population, such as children.

The list currently includes, among its most dangerous, the Ebola virus, anthrax, ricin, smallpox, Lassa fever and Marburg virus.

HHS is looking for more than whether or not someone feels a compound should, or should not, be included. The department also wishes to know whether or not it should stratify the list into tiers based on a substance’s relative threat to the population as a weapon of bioterror and whether or not those in the top tier should be further broken down according to type of use or any other factors.

The biennial review process will also include consultation with the Intergovernmental Select Agents and Toxins Technical Advisory Committee, which is comprised of employees from USDA, DHS, Dod, FDA and the National Institutes of Health.

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National Institutes of Health

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