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The first step toward evaluating the necessity of a legal strategy for bioterrorism is to assess the adequacy of the existing legal infrastructure for dealing with bioterrorism issues.Do provisions in the law exist that enable authorities to do what needs to be done in the context of a bioterrorism event, for example decontaminating a building or quarantining individuals?These ideas include multiple components of the individual sessions and have cross-cutting implications for an overall response to biological threats.
There is concern about who should have access to certain scientific materials, equipment, and information and whether access to select agents should be restricted.
At the same time, it is crucial that as much information as possible be in the hands of the biomedical community so that scientists can conduct the type of research that is necessary to build a strong biodefense arsenal.
This kind of simulation approach could be used in guiding decisions about experimental design as well as in testing various policy and response scenarios.
Bioterrorism preparedness as a national security imperative also raises many important legal issues.
Are there any legal obstacles that would interfere with a public health response to bioterrorism?
The primary legal authority for bioterrorism preparedness and response is at the state level.
One vision is an international molecular forensics lab that would rely on a molecular fingerprint global database to identify the source of the bioterrorist agent.
This capability could provide the biological equivalent of the threat of nuclear retaliation.
Finally, computational modeling is an important but undervalued scientific component of bioterrorism defense preparedness.
New computational capabilities can be used to model interactions between digital microbes (as opposed to actual, biological microbes) and digital immune systems.