Friday, October 07, 2005

Pandemic threat: Bush stays on message

When the Bush Administration wakes up, it wakes up with a start. "Holy Shit," they say. "I'm late. I must have slept through the alarm."

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt offered his late-note from Daddy:
America's top health official says the world is "woefully unprepared" to respond to a pandemic, a problem made more urgent by concerns that the current avian flu virus could spread into a global health crisis.

"The world is woefully unprepared," Mike Leavitt, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, told CNN Thursday.

"You'd think that it would be a matter of constant concern to us. It has not been, anywhere in the world and, consequently, the world is unprepared. And we're now as a civilization rallying to say, 'What can we do to better prepare?' " (CNN)
So that's the line. Yes, we overslept. But so did everyone else. [Maybe we tortured a little in Iraq, but we didn't torture anywhere near as much as much as Saddam.] Forget about the fact that the richest, most technologically advanced nation exerted no leadership and was asleep at the switch. Those puny economies in southeast Asia deserve just as much blame as we do.

Oh, and while we are running around like an infected chicken with our head cut off, let's accomplish some other Bush Administration agendas. Need to stay on message:
President George W. Bush, smarting from criticism of his role in the Hurricane Katrina debacle, has stepped up efforts to show he is on top of the looming crisis.

On Tuesday, he raised the possibility of using the military to quarantine affected areas in the United States in the event of an avian flu outbreak.

"I take this issue very seriously. The people of the country ought to rest assured that we're doing everything we can," Bush said during a White House news conference.

On Friday, Bush is due to meet makers of vaccines and treatment for bird flu. (Agence France Presse)
So what's he going to tell the vaccine makers? "I've been thinking about this. Maybe you should be moving to cell culture techniques instead of the egg-based system you now have. And what about DNA vaccines? Why didn't you include adjuvants in the first trial of the H5N1? Oh, and the the way, the Market doesn't work for vaccines. Maybe we should consider government sponsored research, development and production instead of relying on Big Pharma." No, I don't think so. It will be this:
Bush called together the heads of major vaccine companies "to press ahead to expand our manufacturing capacity for a vaccine to address this risk," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday.

On the agenda for Friday's meeting is liability, McClellan said. If healthy people suffer side effects from a vaccine, manufacturers can face huge lawsuits, one reason many companies have left the business in the last two decades. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Halleleuja, a pandemic! Martial law and tort reform. God is truly on the President's side.