Edited by Harry W. Richardson, Peter Gordon and James E. Moore II
Chapter 7: Current and Improved Biodefense Cost–Benefit Assessment
7. Current and improved biodefense cost–beneﬁt assessment Clark C. Abt INTRODUCTION This chapter makes three essential points: (1) under current conditions of inadequate US biodefenses, a single catastrophic bioterrorist attack can kill more people than any single nuclear terrorist attack; (2) catastrophic bioterrorist attacks are diﬃcult to deter or defend against, but their risks of massive potential fatalities can be prevented and mitigated by scientiﬁcally feasible, economically aﬀordable, and politically acceptable means; and (3) cost–beneﬁt assessment of improved biodefenses as described show a dual net beneﬁt of at least an order-of-magnitude reduction in deaths and damages and additional peacetime public health beneﬁts to protect against natural deadly epidemics for an annual investment of less than the $10 billion. This compares with the amount currently invested in ballistic missile defense, a much smaller and less likely threat. Cost–beneﬁt assessments are considered for improved biodefenses against three catastrophic bioterrorist attacks on the most valuable and vulnerable urban transport centers (New York, Washington, DC and Los Angeles). Potential economic and loss of life costs of the three most catastrophic types of bioterrorist attacks (smallpox, plague and anthrax) are estimated from realistic scenarios for current and near-future improved biodefenses. Deaths from a current potential mass bioattack on US cities range from 500 000 to 30 million people; economic damage ranges from $200 billion into trillions. The median and the range of deaths and damages of a catastrophic bioterrorist attack on any large city...
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