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Capitol Health Call
November 9, 2005

Pandemic Preparedness

JAMA. 2005;294(18):2292. doi:10.1001/jama.294.18.2292-a

A month after Hurricane Katrina revealed the US government poorly prepared for the effects of a natural disaster, the federal government showed signs of awakening to the threat of an influenza pandemic.

On September 29, the Senate approved an amendment to the 2006 Defense Department appropriations bill, providing $3.9 billion for flu preparedness. The amendment, introduced by Sen Tom Harkin (D, Iowa), would substantially increase global surveillance of avian flu, restore budget cuts to state and local public health departments for emergency preparedness activities, increase stockpiles of oseltavimir (an antiviral that can be used to treat patients with current strains of the avian flu), and strengthen the nation’s vaccine infrastructure. A day later, reported The Wall Street Journal, President George W. Bush was preparing a request to Congress of between $6 billion and $10 billion to stockpile vaccines and antivirals to minimize a potential US pandemic.

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