The pandemic forces the cataloging of high-risk biological agents and toxins in Spain

Covid-19 confirms that the appearance of pathogens is already a threat to public health. National Security proposes It proposes to improve the protection of classified information of the ministries and contractors

UME agents disinfect the surroundings of the National Library in May of last year.BERNARDO DAZ

The Covid crisis has turned into reality events that until very recently were unimaginable. The virus is not yet under control despite the miraculous breakthrough in vaccination. Everyone is now trying to learn from the tragic mistake of not having calibrated in time the global impact of the coronavirus, after its discovery in the region of Wuhan (China).

The WHO warns that another pandemic could occur at any time. And in the Department of Homeland Security from Presidency of the Government point to epidemics as the greatest danger during the period 2021-2023.

Although there is scientific consensus on the animal origin of the coronavirus, the 2020 National Security report maintains that this crisis has found that the emergence of emerging pathogens and their global distribution is more than ever a threat to public health and international security, which it grows exponentially in the face of possible malicious use by non-state actors.

For this reason, they raise the need to have an inventory of high-risk biological agents and toxins and the facilities where they are managed and cultivated, to ensure their custody and the protection of the facilities.

To this end, the first steps have been taken and a working group has been set up, within the Specialized Committee on the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, which leads the Ministry of Health and in which the Carlos III Health Institute; the Ministry of Science and Innovation; the one of farming; Interior; Defending Y Hacienda. They have already prepared a proposal for a list of pathogens and toxins that should be controlled, as well as the Spanish laboratories that handle this type of agents. The next move will be to create a National Commission of Biosecurity.

The report also emphasizes the need to increase the level of security for goods that transit through European territory, since some criminal organizations, it points out, benefit from free movement in the EU. Technological and biological development and globalization favor the exchange of biological weapons and this increases the risk both that they could fall into the hands of terrorist organizations and of accidental exposure, says this official text.

Another of the great reflections made in this report affects the vulnerability of cyberspace, a risk that has increased with the pandemic due to the proliferation of the use of the digital environment. This space is already a flank of attacks on the security of the country, directed both at the Administration, companies in strategic sectors and the intellectual and industrial property of public and private companies. In many cases they come from other countries. The forecast, they emphasize, is that they continue to grow.

In 2020, the disinformation and propaganda campaigns, in the Spanish language, promoted from some states have increased. National Security raises the convenience of renewing the communications system for classified information between the different ministries. And to also improve the protection of data on Defense held by companies to safeguard national and international contracts, projects and programs and the identification of the people who have access to it.

There are currently 500 classified contracts in force in the department headed by Margarita Robles. Of these, 34% are confidential, 64% reserved and 1% secret.

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