biological terrorism

COVID-19 Has Shown US, UK Are Vulnerable to Biological Terrorism, Experts Say

The coronavirus raises questions about the West's ability to cope with pandemics and whether labs are secure. What could terrorists do with a pathogen?

In this March 31, 2020, file photo, Samaritan's Purse crew and medical personnel work on preparing to open a 68 bed emergency field hospital specially equipped with a respiratory unit in New York's Central Park in New York.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a structural vulnerability to biological attacks in the U.S. and Europe that requires urgent government action, multiple current and former national security and public health officials told NBC News.

Former officials in the U.S. and the U.K. warn that the devastating impact of the coronavirus on health care infrastructures and economies may act as a "neon light" for terrorist groups looking to unleash pathogens on Western nations.

The pandemic has shown that the West has trouble testing, tracking and treating a pandemic or sustaining a supply of protective equipment for health care workers. It has also raised questions about the security of pathogen research labs worldwide.

"Many of the very worst-case characteristics of an intentional event are also being seen in this naturally occurring pandemic," said Dr. Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com

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