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Sebelius to Testify about Bioterror Threat

480px_Kathleen_Sebelius_official_portraitHealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify before the Senate Appropriations health subcommittee this week about the nation’s preparations for a bioterror attack, The Hill reports.

Sebelius’ testimony is “part of a larger examination by the Senate Appropriations health subcommittee… into HHS’ strategy for developing treatments to tackle public-health threats, which also include things like pandemic flu,” according to The Hill.

On Monday, Sebelius defended a new move to overhaul the biodefense system, in part because of outdated technology, Global Security Newswire reports.

“We were working to squeeze every last bit of efficiency out of safe, but outdated, technology,” she said, noting that HHS still used chicken eggs to grow vaccines.

The overhaul comes with a price tag of nearly $1.9 billion. It includes initiatives to create pandemic-flu vaccine faster and more efficiently, and beefs up the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory powers.

Also, last week, HHS announced the first of eight contracts awarded to companies, including Northrop Grumman Security Systems, to develop effective preventive steps against both natural and man-made biological threats.

Sebelius issued a review of the agency’s approach to developing those preventive steps, called countermeasures, in which she called for new methods of innovation to alleviate “bottlenecks” in the process.

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