Bush to unveil U.S. pandemic plan tomorrow

Drafy HHS Pandemic Plan

President Bush will unveil a national pandemic preparedness plan in a speech at the National Institutes of Health tomorrow, a Bush administration spokesman said.

Bush’s speech will update a draft pandemic preparedness plan that the Department of Health and Human Services released in August 2004. The speech will come days after the Senate added $8 billion to the 2006 HHS appropriations bill, which passed last Thursday, to help combat an avian flu outbreak.

The avian flu funds, added to the Senate version of the bill in an amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), includes $3.1 billion for stockpiling antiviral medication and $3.3 billion for stockpiling flu vaccines. The bill also includes $600 million for state and local public health agencies for emergency preparedness and $750 million to improve hospital preparedness and surge capacity.

The Senate bill, which still needs to be resolved in conference with the House, also includes $60 million in funds for global disease-surveillance systems.

In his speech, Bush will outline the United States’ pandemic plan as bird flu edges closer to the country. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported today that it found the H5 strain of bird flu in a small number of migratory wild ducks in Manitoba and Quebec.

An agency spokesman said the details of the flu strain remain unclear, and the agency could not determine if the strain matched the specific virus that has spread in Asia.

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