The president, in a speech at the National Institutes of Health, said the U.S. must be prepared to detect outbreaks anywhere in the world, stockpile vaccines and antiviral drugs and be ready to respond at the federal, state and local levels in the event a pandemic reaches the U.S.
Mr. 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;
• $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.
What’s missing is our contribution to global responses to the flu and research and information sharing, which should be facilitated through a global open database of flu data to encourage broader research. We’re the greatest country in the world and can afford to save humanity from pandemics.