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April 21, 2006

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Here's an example of that kind of monitoring, excellent in Egypt, not so great in Indonesia, nearly absent in sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, the budget that Bush sent to Congress will cut NIH funds every year through 2010. (See p.12 of this ASCB newsletter (pdf) for details.)

You can't do flu preparation without the NIH. Trying to starve out the NIH while funding flu prep separately is a recipe for misspending and waste, because the money will be spent by administrators and cronies. The NIH is the agency that has capable scientists and doctors doing the public service jobs of allocating money. It is not immune from cronyism or mistakes, but it has a stronger tradition of self-governing than, say, FEMA.

Meanwhile the Senate approved a budget amendment to add, not subtract, money from the NIH for 2007. A separate amendment would create a reserve fund for flu preparedness planning including "the creation of a Manhattan Project-like program to develop a vaccine" (see p.15 of this month's newsletter, also pdf).

I'm not sure if that money would be administered through NIH or separately. I believe it's now up to the House to determine whether Bush will be allowed to starve out the NIH, or if Congress will save health science research in this country.

It's interesting that when I talk to my family in the heartland, they say that there's a lot of discussion about bird flu and how the government will handle it. They say that everyone believes that Bush will handle it like he handled Katrina, in other words, you're on your own. It's becoming obvious that Katrina was the tipping point for the heartland.

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