The US Department of Defense still has not come up with a way to assess biosecurity measures at military labs, the New York Times reports.
In 2015, federal agencies investigated shipments of live anthrax from the Dugway Proving Ground, an Army facility, to other US locations as well as to Australia, Canada, and South Korea, and the initial investigation found fault with the procedures in place at the facility, as the approach used was not sufficient to kill the samples. The Times adds that a later finding also criticized a "culture of complacency" among senior managers at the facility.
A new report from the Government Accountability Office has found that the Defense Department has only implemented 18 of the 35 recommendations the Army made to improve safe handling of dangerous agents, the Times says. It notes that one of the recommendations still to be implemented is the development of a way to measure the effectiveness of the changes. This makes it difficult to gauge whether there have been safety improvements, it adds.
According to the Times, the Department of Defense has acknowledged the issue.
Concerns surrounding the handling of infectious agents by military labs arose around the same time as reports of the mishandling of smallpox samples at an old National Institutes of Health lab and of anthrax and flu samples by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labs.