"Whether it is the reintroduction of smallpox by a terrorist, a dirty bomb in an urban center or another pandemic influenza outbreak… we are underprepared to respond to these threats and we must take immediate steps to be better prepared," Greenwood stated.
He noted that additional funding should be allocated for pandemic and bioterror preparedness, and also recommended that the US Vice President be appointed as chief orchestrator of pandemic and bioterror preparedness.
"We are not organized as a government to effectively and quickly respond to either pandemics or bioterror because the authorities are defused, they don’t always talk to one-another and that is exactly why a central unified plan, a strategic plan, a central budget and giving authority to the Vice President makes all the sense," Greenwood argued.
A December 2015 report by the Trust for America’s health and the Wood Johnson Foundation found that 28 US states received failing grades on indicators correlating to prevention, detection, diagnostics and responding to disease outbreaks.
Moreover, the report found that gaps remain in the preparedness by US government and institutions for public health emergencies, including potential bioterror or natural disease outbreaks.
James Greenwood is president and CEO of the biotechnology trade association Biotechnology Industry Organization.