Security Changes Coming in the Wake of Plague Scare - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/16/03

Security Changes Coming in the Wake of Plague Scare

Following Wednesday's bio terrorism scare, security at medical centers and research facilities across the nation is in question, but will there ever be a fool-proof system? One official NewsChannel 11 talked to said "no" as long as research is being conducted, people will have to have access to these dangerous agents.

In an attempt to identify new antibiotics which would be effective against the Bubonic Plague research was underway at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. Now, an accident has forever changed security at research centers across the nation.

"I suspect there are going to be some changes in the way universities and other places that handle these agents are going to have to address the security issues," says Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Vice-President Glen Provost.

Provost says for now there are no major changes, and the research will continue. "I think the cost to the public, of our not being able to do the kind of research that we are doing, is greater than the risk that there is going to be some security violation," says Provost. "The CDC right now has a process in place where they are going to be proposing a number of changes that would have an impact on not only universities but anyone who is handling those kind of agents."

"So, how are we going to keep this from happening again? I don't think there's anyway you can guarantee this won't happen again. I think what you do is you try to be as vigilant as you can," says Provost.

He also says the goal is to better balance securing a lab with agents of this nature without affecting research.

"It's going to be problematic. If we're too restrictive of who can have access to these agents. On the other hand, what we will do is make sure that the people who are given access to these agents have a reason to be given access, we know who they are, what they are responsible for and even if they were to have limited access," says Provost.

Some security possibilities are security cameras, security guards, and a card swiping identification system.

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