We Are Still Not Ready

November 12, 2011
by Lowell Weicker
New York Times

Wil Hylton’s article “How Ready Are We for Bioterrorism?” raised important concerns about how hard it is to protect the country from naturally occurring and man-made biological threats. He outlined how the lack of profitability and the bureaucratic hoops required to get vaccines and medical countermeasures to market can mean we’re often our own worst enemy. But he missed an equally important and extremely troubling part of the equation: cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to state budgets mean that even when we have medicines and vaccines, we aren’t in a position to get them to Americans quickly. Federal support for preparedness has been gutted, dropping 37 percent since fiscal year 2005, and state and local health departments have cut an estimated 44,000 workers between 2008 and 2010. After Sept. 11 and anthrax, we built up biodefense capabilities, but we’re moving backward. When the next tragedy strikes, we will not be ready. The price tag for lack of preparedness will be American lives.

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