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In the News Archive: 2007

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December 2007

We're all going to die: Can humanity be saved from catastrophe, and is the cost worth it? by Daniel Cressey. Nature. (12-21-2007): Article refers to "Reducing the Risk of Human Extinction," a paper authored by Center consultant, Jason Matheny.

Biosecurity experts describe how Congress can help prepare for bioterrorism attacks, by Molly McElroy. AAAS News. (12-12-2007): “Preparation matters. . .All of these things take a long time to put in place,” Dr. Brad Smith said, describing the elements of an effective public health response to bioterrorism and noting the lack of sufficient funding and a cumbersome contracts process for medical countermeasure development.

Flu pandemic would cost hospitals billions, by Michael Smith. MedPage Today. (12-04-2007): With regard to a study published in the Journal of Health Care Finance, author Dr. Eric Toner notes “. . .the expected negative financial impact on hospitals of a severe pandemic is significant.”

Is nation prepared for biological attacks, epidemics?, by Morgan Ashenfelter. The Jamestown Sun (ND). (12-04-2007): Dr.  Brad Smith comments, “Government officials get sticker shock when they learn how much money and how long it takes to develop a drug.”

New anthrax vaccine doomed by lobbying, by David Willman.  Los Angeles Times. (12-02-2007): Dr. D.A. Henderson recalls a meeting convened the Sunday night following September 11, 2001, “There was intelligence information coming through and some chatter coming through, suggesting there was going to be a second event, that the second event could very likely be a biological event. And anthrax and smallpox were both raised as possibilities.”

November 2007

Experts ’fail’ risk analysis for Boston bioterror lab, by Rick Weiss. Washington Post. (11-30-2007): Noting the lack of scientific rigor of an NIH report about the risks associated with a proposed high-containment lab in Boston, expert panel member Dr. Gigi Kwik Gronvall remarks, “If the report were an article submitted to a scientific journal, we would have rejected this.”

NIH criticized for flawed review of Biosafety lab, by Jocelyn Kaiser . ScienceNow Daily News. (11-29-2007): Noting the lack of scientific rigor of an NIH report about the risks associated with a proposed high-containment lab in Boston, expert panel member Dr. Gigi Kwik Gronvall comments that were this study submitted to a scientific journal, “we would have rejected this.”

Low investment, fear of failure hindering bioterror advances, by Daniel Fowler. Congressional Quarterly, Homeland Security. (11-28-2007): Dr. Brad Smith is quoted regarding the lack of federal investment in developing biodefense drugs and vaccines: “Drug development is a very risky endeavor and there are no guarantees [that a drug will make it to market.]”

Biosafety expert urges lawmakers to reform laboratory accident reporting guidelines. States News Service. (11-21-2007): Dr. Gigi Kwik Gronvall is quoted:  “The best way to create a safe research environment is to allow other scientists to learn about their colleagues’ mistakes before they repeat them.”

Homeland Security: Inside and Out. Host: Randy Larsen. KAMU 90.9 FM. (11-20-2007): Radio interview with Dr. Eric Toner regarding Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21: “I think this is a remarkable document. . .It touches on what we consider the critical components for the healthcare sector, biosurveillance, countermeasure distribution, and community engagement, so it’s a great document.”

October 2007

1957 Asian flu hit area communities hard, by George Guido. Valley News Dispatch (Western, PA). (10-28-2007): With regard to school districts planning for pandemic flu, Ms. Jennifer Nuzzo states “It makes a whole lot of sense for schools to be thinking about it . . . .In particular, there’s a concern about school kids because of the rate at which school kids shed viruses.”

Tiered vaccine plan puts military, infants first, Steve Inskeep, Anchor. National Public Radio. (10-24-2007): Regarding the flu vaccination plan, Dr. Tom Inglesby is quoted, "If you tell a parent the day a pandemic is announced that their 5-year-old can't get vaccine until a hundred million other people deemed critical personnel are going to get vaccine first, watch out."

Panel frets about bioterror preparedness six years after anthrax attacks, by Lauren Phillips. Congressional Quarterly Today. (10-23-2007): Regarding the lack of funding appropriated for BARDA: Dr. Tara O'Toole was quoted,"That is sending, I think totally unintentionally, but very loudly, a message to the biotech and pharma companies in this game that Congress doesn't really take biodefense seriously."

Vaccine problems, plans scrutinized during Senate hearing, by Dan Friedman. National Journal's Congress Daily. (10-23-2007): With regard to funds for Project Bioshield, Dr. Tara O'Toole notes that "Five billion [dollars] is much less than we're going to need."

After accidents, laboratory safety is questioned, by Kelly Field. The Chronicle of Higher Education. (10-19-2007): Dr. Gigi Kwik Gronvall notes with regard to reporting lab accidents: "You want to encourage reporting, not punish people for reporting."

Local school districts prepare for flu pandemic, by Tim Puko. Pittsburgh Tribune Review. (10-18-2007): Ms. Jennifer Nuzzo notes that "It makes a whole lot of sense for schools to be thinking about [planning for a flu pandemic]."

Want to stop flu? Focus on children's hygiene, by Becky Ham. Health Behavior News Service. (10-16-2007): Commenting on closing schools to prevent disease spread, Ms. Jennifer Nuzzo noted, "It's likely that the effectiveness of school closures would depend on what respiratory disease is present, how early the measure is applied and or how long and whether or not kids are prevented from mixing elsewhere."

Researchers with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, U.S. discuss study findings. NewsRx.com. (10-14-2007): Dr. D.A. Henderson is mentioned in this article.

How safe are our bio-labs?, by Ken Stier. TIME. (10-05-2007): Report regarding Congressional hearing on high containment biological research labs mentions Dr. Gigi Gronvall.

Growth of biosafety labs not fully known, by Ruth Mantell. MarketWatch. (10-05-2007): Dr. Gigi Kwik Gronvall is quoted in a report about a Congressional briefing on biosafety labs: "Infections lead to negative publicity and scrutiny . . . adversely affecting future research funding."

Kulongoski says terror exercise will prepare Ore. for other risks, by William McCall. The Associated Press. (10-04-2007): With regard to terrorism drills and maintaining effective communications, Ms. Jennifer Nuzzo is quoted: "I think in all the exercises that's a huge thing, and a common theme in all of them."

September 2007

Anthrax has a long history, by Robert Miller. Danbury News Times. (09-11-2007): Senior Analyst Jennifer Nuzzo was interviewed about the 2001 anthrax attacks: "To weaponize it [anthrax], you make it more lethal. It has to make people sicker, or stay in the air longer, so more people breath [sic] it in."

Misdirection of National Institutes of Health research priorities, by Sherwood Ross. OpEdNews.com. (09-03-2007): This report refers to an article by the Center for Biosecurity on government funding for biodefense initiatives, Billions for Biodefense.

August 2007

Lack of training in biodefense research leading to dangerous leaks, most incidents go unreported, experts caution, by Cassandra Willyard. Nature. (08-31-2007): With regard to lab safety, Dr. Gigi Kwik Gronvall comments "I'm concerned that they're [lab workers] not being given the tools to protect themselves."

Homeland Security: Inside and Out. Host: Randy Larsen. KAMU 90.9 FM. (08-28-2007): Radio interview with Dr. Tara O'Toole regarding a Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's report about the National Bio-Surveillance Integration System: "This report actually says that since 2001 federal agencies have spent more than $32 billion on electronic surveillance systems to address biodefense, and I have to say, with regret, I haven't seen much improvement in what we can actually detect, or in our ability to manage a public health emergency once one is underway. So we've spent a lot of money not getting very far."

Blind preparation, by Andy Opsahl. Government Technology. (08-27-2007): In-depth interview with Dr. Tara O'Toole on the current state of bioterrorism preparedness and the lack of national response strategy: ". . .This is why a conduct of operations plan—exactly what actions we are going to take if this happens—is important. The fact that it's missing, even for an anthrax attack, is another symptom of our lack of any kind of strategic thinking."

As biodefense research booms, reward is weighted against risk, by Pete Alfano. Fort Worth Star-Telegram. (08-23-2007): Dr. Gigi Kwik Gronvall is referenced in the article.

Ohio planning to purchase stockpile of influenza drugs, by Regina McEnery. Plain Dealer (Cleveland). (08-16-2007): Dr. D.A. Henderson comments about extending the shelf life of stockpiled antivirals past the date of expiration: ". . . if they are going to be extended, then the drugs have to be kept in conditions that must be carefully monitored—both for temperature and humidity. . . "

Biological surveillance falls short, report says; Lack of staff cited as deficiency in program to protect nation; critics say Homeland Security has no strategy, by Rebecca Carr and Allison Young. Atlanta Journal Constitution. (08-10-2007): Dr. Tara O'Toole comments on the Department of Homeland Security's National Bio-Surveillance Integration System: "They wanted to build a national hurricane watch for public health emergencies. . . But just as we saw with Hurricane Katrina, just watching the hurricane coming is not enough."

July 2007

A&M loses bid to house federal biodefense lab: University suspects disease-exposure cases played role in decision, by Emily Ramshaw. Dallas Morning News. (07-12-2007): Dr. Brad Smith comments on whether biosafety infractions could hinder future funding opportunities for a research institution: "Most of these grants still go to individual scientists, to individual investigators. . . It's hard to say whether being affiliated with university X or university Y would influence it."

Bush boosts biodefense budget request. Global Security Newswire. (07-11-2007): GSN reports the release and findings of the article Billions for Biodefense, authored by Center analysts Crystal Franco and Shana Deitch: "The Bush administration’s fiscal 2008 budget request would provide $309 million more for civilian biodefense than its previous request, boosting funding for the Health and Human Services, Defense and Agriculture departments, the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Biosecurity said Monday."

When the 'bleed-out' begins; A state of unreadiness nearly 6 years after 9/11, by David Ignatius. Washington Post. (07-05-2007): Dr. Tara O'Toole's testimony before the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security is quoted: "More than five years after the anthrax mailings, the U.S. still lacks a coherent plan for conduct of operations to guide the health-care sector's response to mass-casualty care in the event of a bioterrorist attack or other large-scale catastrophe."

June 2007

Homeland Security: Inside and Out. Host: Randy Larsen. KAMU 90.9 FM. (06-26-2007): Radio interview with Dr. Eric Toner regarding Extensively Drug Resistant Tuberculosis. Dr. Toner comments: ". . . we need rapid diagnostic tests for this organism and for other potentially serious emerging diseases; it shouldn't take us 5 months to make a diagnosis of this condition—we should be able to do it in hours or at least days."

CNBC. (06-12-2007): Colonel Randy Larsen on the future of biological detection technologies: "We have nearly instantaneous tests for things like pregnancy, mononucleosis. It took nearly six weeks to get a diagnosis [in the recent XDR-TB case]."

Smallpox vaccine: A tame virus runs amok, by Jocelyn Kaiser. Science Magazine. (06-08-2007): "It does not mean the program is broken" commented Dr. Luciana Borio on the Department of Defense’s smallpox vaccination program and the case of a U.S. soldier whose son became infected with eczema vaccinatum after the solider was vaccinated.

Bavarian Nordic wins U.S. smallpox vaccine contract, by Salamander Davoudi.  Financial Times (London). (06-05-2007): Article names the Center for Biosecurity as a reference.

CBS News: The Saturday Early Show. (06-02-2007): In an interview regarding the Andrew Speaker tuberculosis case and U.S. border security, Colonel Randy Larsen noted: "It's the fact that it takes us three months to get a proper diagnosis of this dangerous disease. We could get pregnancy tests, strep throat tests, mononucleosis tests in a matter of minutes. Why does it take three months to do this and why don't we have the antibiotics to cure this disease?"

Germ warfare: agencies scramble to create vaccine market, by Breanne Wagner. National Defense. (06-01-2007): Dr. Tara O'Toole's testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is quoted on the subject of private investment in biodefense countermeasures: "Even in the most profitable scenarios, biodefense countermeasures . . . cannot generate profits comparable to successful medicines for chronic disease that are taken for years by large populations."

Fox News Live with E.D. Hill. (06-01-2007):  Dr. Richard Waldhorn was interviewed about Extensively Drug-resistant Tuberculosis.

May 2007

Your World with Neil Cavuto, FOX News. (05-30-2007): Colonel Randall Larsen interviewed about the potential for Extensively Drug-resistant Tuberculosis to be used as a biological weapon.

System breakdown? Missed signals? ABC World News with Charles Gibson. (05-30-2007): Dr. Thomas Inglesby interviewed on Extensively Drug-resistant Tuberculosis: "If we're at the point in the investigation where we're having to track down airline passengers on multiple continents, it's too late in the game."

Disease scare; Medical manhunt. ABC World News with Charles Gibson. (05-30-2007): Dr. Thomas Inglesby interviewed on Extensively Drug-resistant Tuberculosis: "Doctors don't have the right tools to make a quick diagnosis of drug-resistant TB or, for that matter, bird flu virus or SARS or anthrax. This is a fixable problem, and we should fix it."

Homeland Security: Inside and Out. Host: Randy Larsen. KAMU 90.9 FM. (05-29-2007): Radio interview with Dr. Eric Toner regarding CDC's flu protection guidelines. Dr. Toner notes "If it were a particularly bad strain of pandemic flu, yes, I would wear an N95 [respirator] at close contact [with a person infected with flu], and I would wear a mask out in public in a crowded situation."

Syndromic surveillance: faulty alarm system or useful tool? by Maryn McKenna. CIDRAP News. (05-16-2007): Article refers to recommendations that Dr. Tara O'Toole made to Congress regarding the BioSense program.

House authorizes contagions lab. The Associated Press. (05-11-2007): Article references High-Containment Biodefense Research Laboratories: Meeting Report and Center Recommendations.

April 2007

Pandemic planners urged to tap grass roots, by Maryn McKenna. CIDRAP News. (04-17-2007): Article references Community Engagement: Leadership Tool for Catastrophic Health Events and quotes Dr. Monica Schoch-Spana: "If you define citizen preparedness as stockpiling, you are only giving people limited options."

Homeland Security: Inside and Out. Host: Randy Larsen. KAMU 90.9 FM. (04-17-2007): Radio interview with Dr. Monica Schoch-Spana, who talks about Community Engagement: Leadership Tool for Catastrophic Health Events and notes, "We can't just keep our eyes on the crisis period. . . What we're really talking about are the kinds of citizen contributions that can be made in advance of an extreme event."

Deadly smallpox virus lives on. Financial Times (London) (04-17-2007): Article names the Center for Biosecurity as a reference.

Nanoviricides becomes a member of the Alliance for Biosecurity. Business Wire. (04-16-2007): Article identifies the Center for Biosecurity as a member of the Alliance for Biosecurity.

New role to coordinate in public-health crises: some say position will speed up response; critics say it probably won't make a difference, by Mary Shaffrey. Winston-Salem Journal. (04-15-2007): Dr. Brad Smith comments "The intention of this position was . . . to reinforce the idea that there should be one person in the federal government who is responsible for medical and bio-defense (decisions) in public-health emergencies."

Citizen groups could be tapped as major force to mitigate death, destruction, by Matthew Berger. Congressional Quarterly, Homeland Security. (04-13-2007): Article highlights Community Engagement: Leadership Tool for Catastrophic Health Events. Dr. Monica Schoch-Spana is quoted: "Officials need to work with citizens and civic groups before disaster strikes to promote all the ways the public can contribute, including taking part in policy decisions, building volunteer networks, getting support for tax or bond measures that limit vulnerability and improve health and safety agencies, and, yes, having family emergency plans, too."

Globaloptions groups' emergency preparedness expert participates in panel to provide guidance for cities in extreme health event. Business Wire. (04-05-2007): Article features Community Engagement: Leadership Tool for Catastrophic Health Events. Dr. Monica Schoch-Spana is quoted: "Preparedness means more than personal stockpiling."

Biosafety labs urged to report accidents and near misses: U.S. think tank proposed mandatory but anonymous reporting, by John Miller. Nature. (04-04-2007): Dr. Gigi Kwik Gronvall is quoted: "The problem is that accidents aren't reported . . . People recognize the need, so let's do it."

Allegheny County efforts national model of preparedness, by Allison Heinrichs. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. (04-04-2007): Dr. Monica Schoch-Spana quoted: "Civic groups can call up their local hospitals and say, 'Do you have a pandemic flu plan and would you like any input? ... Can my organization and I help you?'"

Flu studies point to isolation for prevention. Morning Edition, reported by Richard Knox. National Public Radio. (04-03-2007): In a radio interview, Dr. D.A. Henderson is quoted: "I was in charge of surveillance at CDC for influenza in 1957. The speed with which that disease spread was just astounding."

March 2007

Review finds little evidence of airborne spread of flu, by Maryn McKenna. CIDRAP News. (03-13-2007): Dr. Eric Toner is quoted: "A lot of our assumptions turn out to be based on urban legends, or extrapolations made from incomplete information . . ."

To avoid flu pandemic, immunize children, by Damian McNamara. Pediatric News. (03-01-2007): Article refers to a study conducted by the Center on the availability of healthcare resources during a pandemic.

Amid anthrax vaccine debacle, BARDA amends biodefense efforts, by Jeffrey L. Fox. Microbe. (March 2007): Dr. Brad Smith is interviewed about the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority legislation: "BARDA is not a silver bullet [but] if it had not passed, it would have been a really negative signal to industry, which would have been even less excited about this market."

February 2007

Bird-flu vaccine goes before feds, by George E. Jordan. Star-Ledger (NJ). (02-27-2007): Regarding an experimental flu vaccine, Dr. Eric Toner notes "This particular vaccine is not an answer to our prayers."

Polio eradication plan needs another $1B: WHO official. CBC News. (02-27-2007): Dr. D.A. Henderson responds to WHO's classification of polio in Somalia and Ethopia as imported instead of endemic: "This is a deception."

Bioterror vaccine production: take 2, by Mike Mitka. JAMA Medical News and Perspectives. Volume 297, Number 6. (02-14-2007): Dr. Brad Smith comments on shortcomings of the first BioShield legislation: "Companies had to raise the funds themselves, so you had the private capital markets making strategic investment decisions that could be at odds with what the government wanted."

Homeland Security: Inside and Out. Host: Randy Larsen. KAMU 90.9 FM. (02-13-2007): Radio interview with Dr. Eric Toner regarding the state of hospital preparedness for large-scale emergencies in the U.S.: "We are concerned about a number of serious disaster scenarios—earthquakes and large-scale terrorism—and we don’t yet have a healthcare system that is at all prepared to handle that. It is a serious issue that needs attention from both the federal government and state government, individual hospitals, and individual communities. Without all these elements working together, we’re not going to get there."

New York to test ways to prevent nuclear terror, by Eric Lipton. New York Times. (02-09-2007): With regard to the potential use of detection devices to stop a terrorist plot to build a nuclear or radiological weapon within the U.S., Dr. Tara O'Toole notes "This is total baloney. . . They are forgetting that no matter what type of engineering solution they try in good faith to come up with, this is a thinking enemy and they will look for a way around it."

UK pandemic test shows limits of off-site alternatives: Working from home doesn't replicate market activity, by John Sandman. Securities Industry News. (02-05-2007): Dr. Gigi Kwik Gronvall is quoted: "It is realistic to expect an avian flu vaccine, but not very soon." Ms. Jennifer Nuzzo is quoted: "Quarantining individuals who may not be infected could do more harm than good . . . The efficacy of quarantine has not been demonstrated."

Hospitals unprepared for pandemic surge, by Dan Childs. ABC News. (02-05-2007): Dr. Eric Toner comments: "In a moderate scenario, an additional 19 percent of non-ICU beds, 46 percent of ICU beds and 20 percent of ventilaros would be in use by flu patients . . . If we have something like the 1918 pandemic, we're in big trouble."

Complacency could be deadly in pandemic. Hospital Employee Health.
Dr. Eric Toner is quoted: "I doubt we could handle a 1968 pandemic now. Our hospitals have trouble dealing with a bad flu season as it is."

Federal anti-flu document raises questions. National Public Radio, Morning Edition, reported by Richard Knox. (02-01-2007): Dr. Thomas Inglesby comments about recommendations in the federal pandemic flu plan: "For some of these recommendations—such as prolonged school closures—there is honest, legitimate debate about the effectiveness of closing schools, about the feasibility of closing schools for two months or three months at a time, and about the downside and how we could cope with that in a community."

January 2007

Bioterror antidote: unfulfilled prescription; after four years, scant progress on Bush's BioShield plan, by Renae Merle. Washington Post. (01-16-2007): Article names the Center for Biosecurity as a reference.

New bioterror legislation is meant to encourage drug development, by Alex Lash. The Deal. (01-15-2007): In an interview about BioShield legislation and its impact on engaging drug manufacturers in countermeasure development, Dr. Brad Smith notes "It's not a miracle cure . . . But investors have not looked favorably on biodefense as a sector to be in. This [bill] shows [that] Congress and the administration both want to take the next step forward."

Experts see bird flu challenge to U.S. health system, by Paul Eckert. Reuters. (01-15-2007): Dr. Thomas Inglesby is quoted: ". . . 'the time line has already begun to slip a little bit' on the U.S. goal for 2011 of having enough vaccine for the entire population within six months of a pandemic influenza virus."

Air sensors act as terror sentry, by David B. Caruso. Associated Press. (01-10-2007): Dr. Penny Hitchcock is quoted: "Monitoring for airborne toxins, she said 'is an enormously difficult problem and an expensive one.'"

Homeland Security: Inside and Out. Host: Randy Larsen. KAMU 90.9 FM. (01-09-2007): Radio interview with Dr. Tara O'Toole, who talks about biosecurity and biotechnology. Dr. O'Toole notes "If we really invested, in an intelligent way and on the appropriate scale, in understanding and dealing with infectious diseases, we could not only protect ourselves against bioterrorism and natural epidemics, we could eliminate big lethal epidemics of infectious disease around the world."