The Department of Homeland Security has spent millions and millions of dollars in recent years on pandemic protective equipment and antiviral drugs for emergency workers. But Inspector General John Roth testified today that "much of the protective gear and drugs are expired or will be soon."
Roth, while testifying at a House oversight hearing on Ebola, also shared an August audit which revealed that DHS has "no assurance" that it's ready to respond to an Ebola outbreak. According to the audit, "DHS and components may not have sufficient [protective gear or medication] to provide to the workforce during a pandemic."
"Most" of the antiviral medication, the audit found, is near expiring, and according to Fox News, Roth said "much of their material has a 'finite shelf life' — including thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer, some up to four years expired, and 200,000 respirators that are beyond their five-year usability guarantee."
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) said at the hearing, "We spent millions of dollars for a pandemic... We don't know the inventory, we don't know who's got it, and we don't know who's gonna get it?" Roth replied, "You are correct."
DHS responded to the audit by saying the report "has not appropriately characterized a number of issues." DHS spokesman S.Y. Lee said in a statement released Friday that the department is "satisfied" with its store of Ebola prevention materials.