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Tags: covid-19 | bioterrorism | united kingdom | health officials | attack | national security

Coronavirus Has Opened Up US, UK to Bioterrorism Attack

a graphic of a nurse holding a map of the united kingdom with its flag on it
(Alexandr Screaghin/Dreamstime)

By    |   Tuesday, 19 May 2020 05:26 PM EDT

The coronavirus pandemic has shined a light on how susceptible the United States and Europe are to biological attacks, and now government officials must act to repair those vulnerabilities, public health and security officials told NBC News.

Current and former officials in the U.S. and the U.K. are worried about how easily coronavirus has crippled the healthcare economies and infrastructures. They said it could become a "neon light" for terrorist groups who want to attack Western nations with pathogens.

"You've got to start thinking about the mind of the terrorist or the criminal," said Chris Phillips, the former head of the British government's National Counter Terrorism Security Office.

"They do take security seriously," Phillips said. "This has just shown you can never be secure enough."

While working at the terrorism office, Phillips had been to several of the laboratories throughout the U.K. He said anyone working inside of a lab could easily walk out with a bioweapon.

"If you were a hardened terrorist and had worked in a lab for years, you would know how to do it," he said.

Many public health officials and security experts have shown concern about new types of biotechnology that can be weaponized using genetically altered bacterium or virus.

"We are also trying to make sure that this doesn't become a weapon of the future," the U.S. ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison told NBC News. "We need to deter and we need to be ready to defend, to save people's lives if there is such an attack." 

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US
The United States and Europe are susceptible to biological attacks and government officials must act to repair those vulnerabilities amid the exposure of the coronavirus, health officials told NBC News.
covid-19, bioterrorism, united kingdom, health officials, attack, national security
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2020-26-19
Tuesday, 19 May 2020 05:26 PM
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