The Bush administration acknowledged yesterday that it still lacks a strategic plan for countering bioterror threats two years after Congress created a special program and appropriated billions of dollars for the purpose, and it pledged fresh efforts to speed up and streamline the troubled Project BioShield.
Under sharp questioning on Capitol Hill from members of both parties, the administration conceded many of the criticisms that have been leveled against Project BioShield by the drug and biotechnology industries in recent months. That $5.6 billion program is meant to build an elaborate national stockpile of drugs and other measures to counter biological and radioactive weapons, but corporate executives have complained of delays, bureaucratic inertia, and other problems in the way the program is being run.
There’s really no excuse for this. Project BioShield was announced during the State of Union Address in 2003. There’s no legitimate reason why the government should still be struggling to develop a plan more than three years later. This puts existing biosecurity-related investments at risk of being wasteful, and it hampers the development of new vaccines and stockpiles.