USAMRIID To Resume Partial Research At Its Labs

CDC has given the go-ahead.


Frederick, Md (KM) Some research is expected to resume at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick.. USAMRIID announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will allow some limited research to be conducted at the labs which handled deadly pathogens.

In July, the CDC suspended USAMRIID’s work on biological select agents and toxins due to do issues with its biosafety program, which had to do with a failure to follow local procedures, and a lack of periodic recertification and training for employees who work in these labs. USAMRIID says when the cease and desist order was issued, laboratory personnel were working with the Ebola virus, tularemia, the Plague and Venezuelan equine encephalitis. But officials say none of these pathogens escaped from the labs.

In a statement, USAMRIID says it has been in discussions with the CDC over these issues. At the same time, USAMRIID officials say they were taking a comprehensive approach to improve training, compliance and biosafety standards.

Last month, the CDC’s Division of Select Agents and Toxins conducted a site inspection of USAMRIID facilities. The agency provided additional conditions allowing a limited number of studies to be conducted in specified laboratories only, and by select personnel who have undergone extensive training.

The CDC says it will continue to conduct on-site evaluations of these new procedures.

USAMRIID commander, Colonel Darrin Cox, says it’s using the “crawl, walk and run” approach to get the containment laboratories back into full operations. “Our concept is to start with a small group of people, secure approval for a limited number of studies, and then gradually expand to include more research projects across additional laboratory suites,” he says, in a statement. . “Resuming operations in this stepwise fashion also allows for continuous communication with the CDC and our Army leadership.”

During the time of the CDC’s cease and desist order, Colonel Cox says the labs at USAMRIID which perform diagnostic work and do not handle pathogens continued to operate.


By Kevin McManus