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Is it time to start worrying about the 'bird flu?'

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Not the sharpest tool in the shed
Oct 18, 2002
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The Cleft of Venus
Bush Outlines $7.1B Flu-Fighting Strategy
Nov 01 11:23 AM US/Eastern
LAURAN NEERGAARD
AP Medical Writer



WASHINGTON

President Bush outlined a $7.1 billion strategy Tuesday to prepare for the danger of a pandemic influenza outbreak, saying he wanted to stockpile enough vaccine to protect 20 million Americans against the current strain of bird flu.

The president also said the United States must approve liability protection for the makers of lifesaving vaccines. He said the number of American vaccine manufacturers has plummeted because the industry has been hit with a flood of lawsuits.

Bush said no one knows when or where a deadly strain of flu will strike but "at some point we are likely to face another pandemic."

The president, in a speech at the National Institutes of Health, said the United States must be prepared to detect outbreaks anywhere in the world, stockpile vaccines and anti-viral drugs and be ready to respond at the federal, state and local levels in the event a pandemic reaches the United States.

Bush outlined a strategy that would cost $7.1 billion including:

_$1.2 billion for the government to buy enough doses of the vaccine against the current strain of bird flu to protect 20 million Americans; the administration wants to have sufficient vaccine for front-line emergency personnel and at-risk populations, including military personnel;

_$1 billion to stockpile more anti-viral drugs that lessen the severity of the flu symptoms;

_$2.8 billion to speed the development of vaccines as new strains emerge, a process that now takes months;

_$583 million for states and local governments to prepare emergency plans to respond to an outbreak.​

Bush said a pandemic flu would be far more serious than the seasonal flu that makes hundreds of thousands of people sick ever year and sends people to their doctors for a flu shot. "I had mine," Bush said. Unlike seasonal flu, pandemic flu can kill people who are young and healthy as well as those who are frail and sick, he said.

In asking Congress for money to buy vaccine, Bush said the vaccine "would not be a perfect match to the pandemic flu because the pandemic strain would probably differ somewhat from the avian flu virus it grew from. But a vaccine against the current avian flu virus would likely offer some protection against a pandemic strain and possibly save many lives in the first critical months of an outbreak."

He also said the United States was increasing stockpiles of antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu and Relenza. Such drugs cannot prevent people from catching the flu, but they can reduce the severity of the illness when taken within 48 hours of getting sick, he said.

"At this moment there is no pandemic influenza in the United States or the world, but if history is our guide there's reason to be concerned," Bush said. "In the last century, our country and the world have been hit by three influenza pandemics, and viruses from birds contributed to all of them."

He pointed out that the 1918 pandemic killed over a half million Americans and more than 20 million people across the globe. "One-third of the U.S. population was infected, and life expectancy in our country was reduced by 13 years.

"The 1918 pandemic was followed by pandemics in 1957 and 1968, which killed tens of thousands of Americans and millions across the world," Bush said.

Bird flu has been documented in Asia and has spread to Europe but has not reached the United States, the president said. "Our country has been given fair warning of this danger to our homeland and time to prepare," he said.

Bush said the cornerstone of his strategy was to develop new technologies to produce new vaccines quickly. "If a pandemic strikes, our country must have a surge capacity in place that will allow us to bring a new vaccine online quickly and manufacture enough to immunize every American against the pandemic strain," Bush said.

The principal goal of Bush's plan, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said, "is the capacity for every American to have a vaccine in the case of a pandemic, no matter what the virus is." "There is no reason to believe that in the next day or two or week or month that that's going to occur," Leavitt said on CBS's "The Early Show." But he added that "we do need to be ready in case it begins to mutate into a human transmissable disease."

Pandemics strike when the easy-to-mutate influenza virus shifts to a strain that people have never experienced before, something that has happened three times in the last century. While it is impossible to say when the next super-flu will strike, concern is growing that the bird flu strain known as H5N1 could trigger one if it mutates to start spreading easily among people. Since 2003, at least 62 people in Southeast Asia have died from H5N1; most regularly handled poultry.

The nation's strategy starts with attempting to spot an outbreak abroad early and working to contain it before it reaches the United States.

Today, most of the world's vaccine against regular winter flu, including much of that used by Americans each flu season, is manufactured in factories in Britain and Europe.

The government already has ordered $162.5 million worth of vaccine to be made and stockpiled against the Asian bird flu, more than half to be made in a U.S. factory.

But the administration plan, to be released in more detail on Wednesday, calls for more than stockpiling shots. It will stress a new method of manufacturing flu vaccines _ growing the virus to make them in easy-to-handle cell cultures instead of today's cumbersome process that uses millions of chicken eggs _ as well as incentives for new U.S.-based vaccine factories to open.

Such steps will take several years to implement, but the hope is that eventually they could allow production of enough vaccine to go around within six months of a pandemic's start.
 

Tenchiro

Attention K Mart Shoppers
Jul 19, 2002
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New England
Heh, for a disease that has killed less than 100 (mostly elderlyand very young) people in the last two years, they sure are going nuts...

:rolleyes:
 

Tenchiro

Attention K Mart Shoppers
Jul 19, 2002
5,407
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New England
PsychO!1 said:
by the time it spreads and kills a thousand it will be too late to keep it from killing hundreds of thousands unless we plan for it.
The only people it will kill are the very old, very young and otherwise infirmed, just like every other normal flu.

Remember SARS?
 

robdamanii

OMG! <3 Tom Brady!
May 2, 2005
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Out of my mind, back in a moment.
Tenchiro said:
Heh, for a disease that has killed less than 100 (mostly elderlyand very young) people in the last two years, they sure are going nuts...

:rolleyes:
It's just like the shark scares every summer. The news grabs ahold of it and tries to scare the hell out of the general public to get ratings.

I hate the mainstream news channels. They are all nothing but a bunch of frauds and fearmongers.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,695
498
NC
Tenchiro said:
The only people it will kill are the very old, very young and otherwise infirmed, just like every other normal flu.

Remember SARS?
While I agree that this is probably blown out of proportion, it is better that something is being done... or should the elderly, young, and otherwise infirmed simply be considered expendable?
 

Westy

the teste
Nov 22, 2002
38,160
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Sleazattle
binary visions said:
While I agree that this is probably blown out of proportion, it is better that something is being done... or should the elderly, young, and otherwise infirmed simply be considered expendable?
At least the elderly. The should run PSAs during Matlock telling people that driving slow in the left lane will give you the bird flu.
 

Tenchiro

Attention K Mart Shoppers
Jul 19, 2002
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New England
binary visions said:
While I agree that this is probably blown out of proportion, it is better that something is being done... or should the elderly, young, and otherwise infirmed simply be considered expendable?
You mean besides taking the standard precautions that will prevent most sicknesses, if you are in a risk group?
 

Tenchiro

Attention K Mart Shoppers
Jul 19, 2002
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New England
Westy said:
At least the elderly. The should run PSAs during Matlock telling people that driving slow in the left lane will give you the bird flu.
:thumb:Half the population of Seattle would be dead, if that were the case.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,695
498
NC
Tenchiro said:
You mean besides taking the standard precautions that will prevent most sicknesses, if you are in a risk group?
So you're suggesting that some precautions are sufficient replacement for the development and stockpiling of a vaccine?

:rolleyes: I know I'm not supposed to go stomping around in piles of dirty metal, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get a tetanus (sp?) vaccine. Avoiding major risk sources isn't exactly a guaranteed way to avoid the problem.

Especially considering this country's cavalier attitude towards sickness - nobody thinks about infecting other people, they just go about their daily business.
 

H8R

Cranky Pants
Nov 10, 2004
13,965
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Wait, what if the terrorists related to 9/11 in Iraq get a hold of the bird flu and use it against us?

:eek:
 

Westy

the teste
Nov 22, 2002
38,160
4,950
Sleazattle
Tenchiro said:
:thumb:Half the population of Seattle would be dead, if that were the case.
All I see are old people. Seriously every where I go there are throngs of wrinkled old confused people milling around with seemingly no direction. There really can't be that many old people, I think the undead have started to rise.
 

Westy

the teste
Nov 22, 2002
38,160
4,950
Sleazattle
H8R said:
Wait, what if the terrorists related to 9/11 in Iraq get a hold of the bird flu and use it against us?

:eek:
I can see it now. Terrorists crash a 747 full of chickens into Washington DC.
 

Tenchiro

Attention K Mart Shoppers
Jul 19, 2002
5,407
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New England
binary visions said:
So you're suggesting that some precautions are sufficient replacement for the development and stockpiling of a vaccine?
Why stockpile a vaccine that wouldn't match the virus?

Dubya said:
Bush said the vaccine "would not be a perfect match to the pandemic flu because the pandemic strain would probably differ somewhat from the avian flu virus it grew from.
 

luken8r

Monkey
Mar 5, 2004
565
0
Melrose MA
robdamanii said:
It's just like the shark scares every summer. The news grabs ahold of it and tries to scare the hell out of the general public to get ratings.

I hate the mainstream news channels. They are all nothing but a bunch of frauds and fearmongers.
its working
i was at target last week getting some kleenex, vitimins, and various other stuff. at the checkout the cashier who was probably in her 50s, typical housewife working just to keep busy. was trying to make small talk. she says something inane like "oh, kleenex is so expensive" or something and i go "yeah, the stores need to stock up before teh bird flu hits"
she turns ghost white, stops dead and with a petrified stare goes "oh my gosh, no one around here has it, do they?"
i just kinda giggle and go, "thank you"; grab my stuff and leave :D
 

SkaredShtles

I love NEWCASTLE and will ONLY drink NEWCASTLE!!!!
Sep 21, 2003
50,830
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In a van.... down by the river
Tenchiro said:
The only people it will kill are the very old, very young and otherwise infirmed, just like every other normal flu.
If it's a particularly virulent strain, like the Spanish Flu, otherwise healthy adults will die. The estimate from that breakout in 1918 was 50 million. And they weren't all elderly or infants.

It's still *very* dramatic, though - and that's why it's all the rage in the media outlets.

If it makes the jump to easy human-human transition, we may be screwed in a big way. Just as likely is that it never makes the transition and it just fizzles out.

Since there's nothing I can do about it, I'd just as soon not bother with thinking too much about it. Sort of like if a meteor was going to strike the earth. <shrug>
 

luken8r

Monkey
Mar 5, 2004
565
0
Melrose MA
my prediction is the media frenzy will kick into high gear around thanksgiving. picture the lead item in the 6:00 news:

"Is YOUR Thanksgiving turkey safe"
"Can your turkey KILL YOU? Stay tuned"
 

Mackie

Monkey
Mar 4, 2004
826
0
New York
Well, all of you nay-sayers. it looks like bird flu has hit Europe, and it went right for a major US interest there. Where could it strike next......Sesame Street!?!?!
 

Attachments

Tenchiro

Attention K Mart Shoppers
Jul 19, 2002
5,407
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New England
sirknight6 said:
:think: Makes you wonder what's REALLY going on...
I don't think there is any big conspiracy, it is just that "Pandemic" is a really cool buzzword for the media. Much like the SARS and Shark attack scares before it.

At least SARS killed like eight hundred people before the media jumped all over it. H5N1 has only killed 62 people in the lst couple of years. At leas according to the WHO.

Cumulative Number of Confirmed Human Cases of Avian Influenza A/(H5N1) Reported to WHO
 

stevew

unique white person
Sep 21, 2001
33,235
3,889
Is there anyone on the other side of the aisle saying we do not need to do it?

Or that we are not spending enough money?
 

luken8r

Monkey
Mar 5, 2004
565
0
Melrose MA