Bush's avian flu plan
President Bush announced Tuesday that he would ask Congress for $7.1 billion to prepare the nation for the possibility of a worldwide outbreak of deadly flu. Most of the money would be spent on research and a national stockpile of vaccines and antiviral drugsI'm glad to see the government taking it seriously. I'm also glad to see that Democratic critics of Bush are criticizing him for doing too little:
"Our country has been given fair warning of this danger to our homeland and time to prepare," Mr. Bush said. "It's my responsibility as the president to take measures now to protect the American people."
But in the Senate, where a measure to spend $8 billion on pandemic flu preparations passed on a vote of 94 to 3 last week, Democrats immediately criticized the president's plan Tuesday as inadequate. One of them, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, said Mr. Bush's proposal "needs to be stronger," and called for more spending to ensure that hospitals and other health care facilities have the capacity to handle a flood of patientBush is so hated by some, that I've seen suggestions that the avian flu is just a conspiracy to allow him to consolidate power, declare martial law, cancel the 2006 elections, etc. Love him or hate him, the avian flu is real. I've long felt that the biggest danger was inaction when the threat wasn't imminent. I don't know enough to comment on the specifics of Bush's plan, but I think a major effort now to develop a vaccine and stockpile anti-virals (which will mean increasing production capacity for olsetamivir aka Tamiflu) may well make all the difference.
Also, I noted this article in which scientists have made the process of vaccine engineering a bit easier. It doesn't sound like a lot, but what we need know is not huge breakthroughs but an accumulation of small advancements.