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Are We Doing Enough to Prevent Bioterrorism?

Wednesday May 2003


Ken Alibek, M.D., Ph.D., Sc.D. Executive Director, George Mason University’s Center for Biodefense

As the war against Iraq winds down, the war against bioterrorism remains an important part of America’s national security and homeland defense. Tracking the source of chemical and biological weapons and developing countermeasures to protect the public against outbreaks are critical components of this war. The President has proposed changes in the way the government approves drugs and vaccines and a broad array of incentives and programs to encourage investment in bioweapons.

Private pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies will bear much of the responsibility for coming up with a bioshield, just as private defense companies are engaged in developing and producing the next generation weapons that were deployed in Iraq. The question is, given the scope and nature of the threat, are proposed changes in incentives and regulations sufficient to protect America against bioterrorism?

To answer this question, the Manhattan Institute has invited one of the world’s leading experts on bioterrorism and countermeasure development. Dr. Ken Alibek is the former First Deputy Chief of the civilian branch of the Soviet Union’s offensive biological weapons program. Dr. Alibek now specializes in medical and scientific research dedicated to developing new forms of protection against biological weapons and other infectious diseases.