Proposed Cuts Alarm Bioterrorism Experts: ‘They’re Just Gutting Things’

In Budget, Healthcare On
- Updated

WASHINGTON — President Trump has promoted his first budget proposal as placing one mission above all else — keeping America safe. But the president has drawn a narrow definition of national security, and one aspect of defense would actually receive less money: protecting the nation from deadly pathogens, man-made or natural.

To help offset a 10 percent increase in military spending, much of the government would take serious hits, including agencies tasked with biosecurity.

The Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, which tracks outbreaks of disease, would be cut by $136 million, or 9.7 percent. The National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases — a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fights threats like anthrax and Ebola — would be cut by $65 million, or 11 percent.

The C.D.C.’s Center for Global Health would lose $76 million, or 18 percent. Its Emergency Operations Center, which conducts real-time monitoring of outbreak responses, and its Select Agents Program, which sets regulations in lethal toxin labs and helps researchers stay ahead of bioterrorists, face unspecified cuts as well.

Experts in biological threats are reacting with alarm.

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