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
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
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.
RETURN TO MORE NEWS RELEASES
RETURN TO COVER PAGE