“Critical steps remain to implement the transfer of ownership of [the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility] to USDA and prepare for the facility's operation, and some efforts have been delayed,” a new Government Accountability Office report has concluded.
Among those “critical steps” — getting approvals to work with “high-consequence pathogens such as foot-and-mouth disease, and physically transferring pathogens to the facility,” GAO said.
Construction, which USDA has previously estimated would be done by the end of the year, already has been delayed by two and a half months because of COVID-19. “The facility is to house state-of-the-art laboratories for research on foreign animal diseases … that could infect U.S. livestock and, in some cases, people,” the report says. The government has estimated construction of the Manhattan, Kan., NBDAF will cost $1.25 billion.
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