Former Homeland Security special assistant details bioweapon countermeasure plans

The former Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security detailed public opinion of the countermeasures that should be provided for biological attacks at the January Domestic Preparedness meeting at the National Press Club.

Robert Kadlec, currently the senior director for the Biological Defense Policy, mentions a recent December 2010 Harris Poll, in which it was determined that both the readers and the members of the Domestic Preparedness 40 were in support for pre-positioning oral antibiotics in metropolitan areas. The responders did not support the idea of making these antibiotics for bioterrorism available to the general public or for home stockpiling, however, the January 2011 DomPrep Executive Briefing reports.

Most readers - 52.2 percent - believe that these antibiotics should be positioned to both emergency responders and the entire metropolitan area and 45.8 percent of all members of the Domestic Preparedness 40 felt similarly. A total of 48.5 percent of responders felt that these oral antibiotics should not be available for the general public for home stockpiling while 50 percent of members felt the same way.

Close to two-thirds of Domestic Preparedness 40 members and readers - 66.7 and 66.9 percent respectively - doubt the efficacy of the current Points of Distribution approach, which would quickly administer the oral antibiotics to people of risk within 48 hours of a bioterrorism attack. A total of 73.7 percent of readers and 87.5 percent of Domestic Preparedness 40 members believed that retail pharmacies and other similar facilities should be enlisted to supplement the POD plan.

The U.S. Strategic National Stockpile currently holds enough oral antibiotics and anthrax vaccine to treat up to 60 million people.