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The DoD has made only 18 of 35 proposed changes designed to enhance lab security, the report says.
With HHS taking the lead, the new strategy establishes a cabinet-level biodefense steering committee.
Gaps the GAO identified include instances of agencies overseeing their own labs, a need for more focus on the highest-risk activities, and understaffing.
Panel finds overall response was thorough, but notes policy gaps and some missteps after the samples were found.
The most common pathogens not properly inactivated were Bacillus anthracis and Francisella tularensis.
Document from Federal Select Agent Program aims at public transparency on lab work involving potentially dangerous pathogens.
The group voted unanimously on policy regarding avian flu and other viruses.
High-containment labs across the US government, including the CDC, have safety gaps, the GAO says.
The next step in the deliberations is a 2-day National Academies of Science symposium in March.
Some topics: weighing risks and benefits, ethical issues, and global involvement.
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