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December 05, 2005

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Thanks for keeping us up-to-date with this and for your work on the Flu Wiki. I'm rarely one to panic, but thinking about THIS Administration being in charge if the pandemic does strike is enough to widen anybody's eyes.

i think the Flu Wiki approach has been the right one. It was just validated by the Feds. Not that that changes anything.

CIDRAP news coverage here

see First Read

As the House returns to work today, NBC's Robert Bazell reports that Bush's urgent call for $7.1 billion to fight the threat of pandemic influenza remains unfunded. About three weeks ago, when the Labor-HHS appropriations bill was considered by the House, Republican members stripped the bill of several provisions, including the flu money. (The bill then went down to a stunning defeat.) The biggest complaint was a lack of offsets for the funds, though some members also questioned the urgency. The Senate funded the request, Bazell notes, but it failed in conference.

Since then, those in the House wanting to spend the money, including the Democratic leadership, have been looking for another vehicle for it. NBC's Viqueira reports that the money is on track to get included in one of the remaining two trains to leave the station -- either the Defense Department appropriations bill or the revived Labor-HHS bill, both of which must pass before Congress departs again. Viq says that right now, the money seems more likely to be attached to the Defense bill, and that it's expected to be about half of what Bush has requested.

Public health officials are very worried about this delay, Bazell reports. Most of the funds would go toward upgrading the nation's vaccine manufacturing capability which, per the general consensus, is woefully inadequate. Bazell says the United States at present could not make enough vaccine for its own citizens, let alone the rest of the world.

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