Layne how such labs would be used and he reels off scenarios.
For influenza, for instance, researchers around the world could
collect hundreds of thousands of samples, have them characterized
in the lab quickly and put together a database of trillions of
bits of information that would give flu researchers the big picture
they so desperately need. "In the short term," he says,
"more information means better vaccines. In the long term,
you can ask questions about how the flu viruses evolve with time;
you can predict whether they'll be virulent; why some viruses
jump from animals to humans and how the viruses move from region
to region. You can start doing things we just can't do now."
tuberculosis, automated labs would allow the tracking of tens
of thousands of cases of multidrug-resistant TB worldwide and
would specify the proper treatment when new cases arise. "With
a system you can test individuals and identify quickly whether
they have multidrug-resistant TB or not, and treat them appropriately,"
bioterrorism and biowarfare, the labs allow for the quick analysis
of the enormous number of samples that will be taken during an
attack - identifying the agents, specifying the treatments, telling
authorities what regions are contaminated, or which city blocks,
or even which homes are safe and which aren't. "If this were
done for bioterrorism," he explains, "the logical place
for such a lab would be at FBI facilities outside of Washington,
and that lab could service the whole country. You could also have
a lab in a C5 transport, which would make it literally only hours
away from anywhere in the country."
deterrent, says Layne, such a laboratory would give the authorities
the opportunity to collect samples of potential biomunitions from
nations throughout the world - whether by overt or covert means
- and create a database of the molecular fingerprints of all these
potential agents. "Now we could go back to people doing these
things," he says, "and we say, 'We have your molecular
fingerprints. We're not going to tell you what fingerprints we've
got or how we got them, but we want you to know if those agents
show up in any wrong place or are sold on the black market, your
safety or your freedom cannot be ensured. If those agents ever
show up on U.S. territory in the wrong place, we can't assure
you'll wake up the next morning.' That's a form of deterrence,
and it may be the only form of deterrence we can have."