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U.S. CDC says to announce safety advisory panel by end of week

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will announce its safety advisory panel later this week following breaches in its handling of anthrax and a deadly form of bird flu in recent weeks, the director of the agency said on Tuesday.

CDC's Dr Thomas Frieden told reporters the members of the panel will consist of biosecurity experts who have no ties to the agency.

The CDC has shut down two labs involved in the anthrax and bird flu incidents and has suspended the transfer of samples from high-security labs until their safety protocols are reviewed.

As a result, Frieden has pledged to make sweeping changes to improve safety measures at CDC labs handling dangerous bacteria and viruses.

Speaking to reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, Frieden said invitations for the panel were issued on Friday and should be accepted in the next day or so.

Advisors will serve under the rules of Federal Advisory Committee Act, which governs the operation of federal advisory panels, stressing open meetings, chartering, public involvement, and reporting. In addition, none of the members will have ever worked at the CDC, Frieden said.

β€œIt’s as independent as we can get,” Frieden told reporters.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Diane Craft)

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