Normally I don’t advocate more governemnt spending, but this is one area where a little more funding would go a long way: stockpiling sufficient reagents that identify bioterror organisms.
A reagent is not a new and improved James Bond — a reagent is a chemical used in testing. In order to detect bioterror organisms, and to identify them correctly, you need reagents. According to this article in C&E News,
But, Becker asks, what if this week’s false alarm turned out to be similar to the 2001 anthrax letter attacks—with many places under attack and testing occurring at many different labs within CDC’s Laboratory Response Network? He is “concerned that there wouldn’t be enough reagents to go around” to perform the tests necessary to identify the bioterror organism. Indeed, he says, once CDC was notified by the Pentagon, it began “working on an allocation scheme to get reagents where they would be needed.”
“There’s an easy fix to this problem,” Becker says. “Congress can appropriate the funds that will permit CDC to develop a reagent stockpile.”
Sounds like a good idea to me.