Anthrax alert system at risk as cost estimate hits $5.7 billion - The Washington Post

The total price may reach $5.7 billion, according to a 2011 report by LMI, a McLean-based consulting firm hired by the Department of Homeland Security.

The $2.1 billion and $5.7 billion “cannot be validly compared,’’ Noah Bartolucci, a BioWatch spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Daniel Bettis, operation manager, holds a vile with an individual dose of an Anthrax vaccine at VaxGen in South San Francisco, Calif. The vaccine produced by this company was placed in a national stockpile.

The $5.7 billion figure covers a longer time period — 17 years, vs. 10 years — and program planners “assigned no confidence level’’ to the $2.1 billion estimate, he said.

BioWatch currently uses canisters that must be installed manually and taken to a lab for analysis. It can take 48 hours to get the results. That delay could mean lost lives in an emergency, Michael Walter, program manager for BioWatch, said in a phone interview.

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