The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a structural vulnerability to biological attacks in the U.S. and other Western nations that requires urgent government action, according to multiple current and former national security and public health officials. Additionally, former officials warn that the devastating impact of COVID-19 may act as a "neon light" for terrorist groups, who could leverage new forms of biotechnology that allow a bacterium or a virus to be genetically sequenced, altered, or weaponized more affordably and more rapidly. "We are also trying to make sure that this doesn't become a weapon of the future," said the U.S. ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, speaking of the potential for enemies to repurpose the coronavirus. "We need to deter and we need to be ready to defend, to save people's lives if there is such an attack," she added. The first line of defense against such pathogens, whether naturally occurring or tweaked in labs, is inadequate, according to experts. "That system is still not adequate to meet the threats that we are facing today," said Dr. Asha George, a public health specialist who heads the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense. "We need that early warning. We don't have it right now," she explained. Juan Zarate, who was deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush, said U.S. authorities must domestically rethink the communication between various government agencies and the private sector so the response to a biological event can be more consistent, rapid, and aggressive. COVID-19 has "brought home not only the realities of our vulnerabilities but the potential risk of this kind of a pandemic in man-made context, genetically modified, that is targeted in ways that are intended to undermine, attack our systems and our health," said Zarate. He continued, "Our homeland security posture and even our counterterrorism approach will be fundamentally altered by this crisis." Read the article at NBC News.