Posted: July 23, 2003


The anthrax attacks on government offices in the fall of 2001 gave us a daunting glimpse of the potential threat bioterrorism presents to our nation.  Five people were killed as a result of those attacks and thousands required treatment.  Delawareans felt the effect when one of our own residents was exposed while working at the Bellmawr, New Jersey postal facility.  Nor will I forget the days when much of Congress, including my Washington office, was exiled from Capitol Hill due to anthrax attacks.  Post September 11th, the possibility of biological or other dangerous pathogens as a weapon of mass destruction became a reality and a serious threat to our society.  To better protect Americans from this new threat, President Bush proposed Project BioShield, a measure that passed the House last week with my full support.

At this time, our nation lacks effective measures to stop some potential biological terrorism agents.  This could mean the difference between a preventable threat and an unprecedented national tragedy.  Project BioShield addresses the need to develop, manufacture and stockpile effective drugs and vaccines for use in the event of a biological attack. 

Currently, pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to produce vaccines or devote resources to the production of bioterrorism countermeasures since there is no guarantee a market will exist at the end of the development process.  Project BioShield removes barriers to development and production by providing an absolute source of funding.  This assures private companies that if they create an effective countermeasure product; the federal government will purchase it.  Managers of the Strategic National Stockpile will have the ability to make long-term binding contracts with companies for the needed bioterror countermeasures. 

During times of national emergency, the American people may be placed at risk of exposure to biological, chemical or nuclear agents.  I have worked hard to secure our nation and protect Delawareans against agents that could cause havoc on our daily lives.  Terrorism is a real threat to our nation.  Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Congress and the President have responded on a number of fronts.  These efforts include the creation of Delaware Electronic Reporting System (DERS) I along with Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) announced plans last year to develop the nation's first computerized communicable disease reporting system prepared for modern threats of emerging infectious disease and acts of bioterrorism. 

I have worked to secure $4 million in federal funds for hardware, system design and implementation of the new system.  This system is going to be extremely beneficial to the people of Delaware.  It will save time and it will save lives.  Timely and accurate reporting of disease outbreaks, such as flu or meningitis, will enable doctors, nurses, lab technicians and healthcare officials to determine how these diseases started or are spreading, and ensure appropriate treatment is prescribed.  

I also supported the President's Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Response Act, which strengthens the nation's bioterrorism preparedness against food borne pathogens in our food supply.  This will help protect the Port of Wilmington, the distribution hub for food products for one-third of the U.S. population.  Through that legislation we have been able to strengthen the nation's bioterrorism preparedness by stockpiling vaccines, medical supplies and protecting the safety and security of America's food supply. 

Project Bioshield and these other steps will help protect our public health and enhance our safety against biological agents.  We do need to prepare for a possible bioterror attack on our homeland.  Through better planning and new methods of prevention and response we can make all Americans more secure.