The Obama administration on Tuesday pushed back against an independent government report that found it is ill-equipped to prevent a biological attack, claiming the White House has accomplished "a great deal" to protect the U.S. against such threats.
White House spokesman Nick Shapiro refuted the criticisms in a 19-page report card published Tuesday by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism, saying Obama unveiled a comprehensive national strategy for countering germ weapons attacks in November.
"Since coming to office the Obama administration has undertaken a comprehensive review of our national preparedness policy," Shapiro said in a statement Tuesday, citing an executive order signed by Obama on Dec. 30, 2009, that establishes a "federal capability to rapidly provide medical countermeasures to supplement state and local response in the event of a large-scale biological attack."
But Shapiro acknowledged the U.S. government's approach to developing such "countermeasures" still "has not produced the results we demand."
Shapiro said the president plans to roll out an initiative during his State of the Union address Wednesday that is focused on "responding faster and more effectively to public health threats, including bio-terrorism."
The commission gave the Obama administration an "F" grade in its report, published Tuesday, citing the White House's delayed response to the H1N1 virus.
The administration's response to the pandemic, the report concluded, showed it is "woefully behind in its ability to rapidly produce rapidly vaccines and therapeutics, essential steps for adequately responding to a biological threat, whether natural or man-made."