Credit CDC PHIL
In the wake of two serious breaches in biosecurity at CDC labs involving anthrax and H5N1 avian flu, and a third incident involving long forgotten and improperly stored smallpox at an FDA lab (see FDA Statement On Additional 300 Vials Discovered At NIH Campus Lab), the CDC has promised a complete review of their safety procedures.
Earlier in the week CDC Director Thomas Frieden indicated an external committee of experts would be formed. Today, the CDC has posted the following announcement, whereby eleven outside experts will provide advice and guidance to the CDC’s new Director of Laboratory Safety.
In a related story, the CDC also released an announcement on the lifting of the moratorium on shipping inactivated TB samples out of one of their CDC’s Clinical Tuberculosis Laboratory after completing a safety review (see New safety protocols in place, first CDC lab resumes transfer of inactivated materials out of high-containment laboratory).
CDC announced today the formation of an external laboratory safety workgroup of the Advisory Committee to the Director of CDC. This group will provide advice and guidance to the CDC Director and CDC’s new Director of Laboratory Safety. The specific charge and functions of the workgroup include, but are not limited to:
- Reviewing and providing input into corrective actions for CDC’s laboratories. These include actions identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services and CDC’s Office of the Associate Director for Science following investigations conducted in response to the June 2014 transfer of potentially viable Bacillus anthracis from a CDC BSL-3 facility to CDC BSL-2 facilities; actions identified in follow up to an inadvertent shipment of an H5N1 influenza-containing laboratory specimen to an external BSL-3 laboratory; and other necessary actions identified through ongoing procedural reviews.
- Prioritizing implementation of additional safeguards across all CDC laboratories.
- Identifying potential weaknesses and necessary safeguards based on experiences of non-CDC (e.g., private and/or academic) laboratories.
- Identifying training and oversight needs to promote and sustain a culture of laboratory safety at CDC.
- Identifying ways to provide stronger safeguards for laboratories across the United States.
- Examining HHS lab protocols and reporting to the Secretary through the ACD on:
- Whether current biosafety and biosecurity rules, processes, and procedures are appropriate.
- Whether implementation or execution of the current protocols is adequate.
- Recommendations for improving these protocols or their implementation.
The group is set to meet for the first time in early August and will meet as frequently as needed.