The US government has stockpiled thousands of bottles of hand sanitiser in the event of an Ebola outbreak in Washington – except 84 per cent of the stock has expired.

It is just one example found in an audit by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general John Roth which showed the US had failed to “adequately conduct a needs assessment” resulting in the purchase and stockpiling of products either out of date or useless – such as 16 million surgical masks.

In a damning executive summary of the 50-page document, the report claimed: “DHS did not adequately conduct a needs assessment prior to purchasing pandemic preparedness supplies and then did not effectively manage its stockpile of pandemic personal protective equipment and antiviral medical countermeasures.”

The report was released today ahead of a White House hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee tomorrow. The hearing will examine the government’s preparations for an outbreak or attack using pathogens.

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