Bush Plan Shows U.S. Is Not Ready for Deadly Flu


PDA






rick_reno
October 8, 2005, 12:55 PM
What's up with our leadership? This flu first showed up 8-9 years ago (need I say CLINTON) in Hong Kong, and now we need emergency measures. They've had 9 years to "plan" for this sort of event, and it appears very
little was done. This report would be worth reading.


Bush Plan Shows U.S. Is Not Ready for Deadly Flu
By GARDINER HARRIS
WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 - A plan developed by the Bush administration to deal with any possible outbreak of pandemic flu shows that the United States is woefully unprepared for what could become the worst disaster in the nation's history.

A draft of the final plan, which has been years in the making and is expected to be released later this month, says a large outbreak that began in Asia would be likely, because of modern travel patterns, to reach the United States within "a few months or even weeks."

If such an outbreak occurred, hospitals would become overwhelmed, riots would engulf vaccination clinics, and even power and food would be in short supply, according to the plan, which was obtained by The New York Times.
The 381-page plan calls for quarantine and travel restrictions but concedes that such measures "are unlikely to delay introduction of pandemic disease into the U.S. by more than a month or two."

The plan's 10 supplements suggest specific ways that local and state governments should prepare now for an eventual pandemic by, for instance, drafting legal documents that would justify quarantines. Written by health officials, the plan does yet address responses by the military or other governmental departments.

The plan outlines a worst-case scenario in which more than 1.9 million Americans would die and 8.5 million would be hospitalized with costs exceeding $450 billion.

It also calls for a domestic vaccine production capacity of 600 million doses within six months, more than 10 times the present capacity.

On Friday, President Bush invited the leaders of the nation's top six vaccine producers to the White House to cajole them into increasing their domestic vaccine capacity, and the flu plan demonstrates just how monumental a task these companies have before them.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration's efforts to plan for a possible pandemic flu have become controversial, with many Democrats in Congress charging that the administration has not done enough. Many have pointed to the lengthy writing process of the flu plan as evidence of this.

But while the administration's flu plan, officially called the Pandemic Influenza Strategic Plan, closely outlines how the Health and Human Services Department may react during a pandemic, it skirts many essential decisions, like how the military may be deployed.

"The real shortcoming of the plan is that it doesn't say who's in charge," said a top health official who provided the plan to The Times. "We don't want to have a FEMA-like response, where it's not clear who's running what."

Still, the official, who asked for anonymity because the plan was not supposed to be distributed, called the plan a "major milestone" that was "very comprehensive" and sorely needed.

The draft provided to The Times is dated Sept. 30, and is stamped "for internal H.H.S. use only." The plan asks government officials to clear it by Oct. 6.

Christina Pearson, a spokeswoman for Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt, responded, "We recognize that the H.H.S. plan will be a foundation for a governmentwide plan, and that process has already begun."

Ms. Pearson said that Mr. Leavitt has already had one-on-one meetings with other cabinet secretaries to begin the coordination process across the federal government. But she emphasized that the plan given to The Times was a draft and had not been finalized.

Mr. Leavitt is leaving Saturday for a 10-day trip to at least four Asian nations, where he will meet with health and agriculture officials to discuss planning for a pandemic flu. He said at a briefing on Friday that the administration's flu plan would be officially released soon. He was not aware at the briefing that The Times had a copy of the plan. And he emphasized that the chances that the virus now killing birds in Asia would become a human pandemic were unknown but probably low. A pandemic is global epidemic of disease.

"It may be a while longer, but pandemic will likely occur in the future," he said.

And he said that flu planning would soon become a national exercise.

"It will require school districts to have a plan on how they will deal with school opening and closing," he said. "It will require the mayor to have a plan on whether or not they're going to ask the theaters not to have a movie."

"Over the next couple of months you will see a great deal of activity asking metropolitan areas, 'Are you ready?' If not, here is what must be done," he said.

A key point of contention if an epidemic strikes is who will get vaccines first. The administration's plan suggests a triage distribution for these essential medicines. Groups like the military, National Guard and other national security groups were left out.

Beyond the military, however, the first in line for essential medicines are workers in plants making the vaccines and drugs as well as medical personnel working directly with those sickened by the disease. Next are the elderly and severely ill. Then come pregnant women, transplant and AIDS patients, and parents of infants. Finally, the police, firefighters and government leaders are next.

The plan also calls for a national stockpile of 133 million courses of antiviral treatment. The administration has bought 4.3 million.

The plan details the responsibilities of top health officials in each phase of a spreading pandemic, starting with planning and surveillance efforts and ending with coordination with the Department of Defense.

Much of the plan is a dry recitation of the science and basic bureaucratic steps that must be followed as a virus races around the globe. But the plan has the feel of a television movie-of-the-week when it describes a possible pandemic situation that begins, "In April of the current year, an outbreak of severe respiratory illness is identified in a small village."

"Twenty patients have required hospitalization at the local provincial hospital, five of whom have died from pneumonia and respiratory failure," the plan states.

The flu spreads and begins to make headlines around the world. Top health officials swing into action and isolate the new viral strain in laboratories. The scientists discover that "the vaccine developed previously for the avian strain will only provide partial protection," the plan states.

In June, federal health officials find airline passengers infected with the virus "arriving in four major U.S. cities," the plan states. By July, small outbreaks are being reported around the nation. It spreads.

As the outbreak peaks, about a quarter of workers stay home because they are sick or afraid of becoming sick. Hospitals are overwhelmed.

"Social unrest occurs," the plan states. "Public anxiety heightens mistrust of government, diminishing compliance with public health advisories." Mortuaries and funeral homes are overwhelmed.

Presently, an avian virus has decimated chicken and other bird flocks in 11 countries. It has infected more than 100 people, about 60 of whom have died, but nearly all of these victims got the disease directly from birds. An epidemic is only possible when a virus begins to pass easily among humans.

If you enjoyed reading about "Bush Plan Shows U.S. Is Not Ready for Deadly Flu" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Car Knocker
October 8, 2005, 02:53 PM
The problem with preparedness is that flu vaccines are strain-specific. What worked for last year's flu outbreak will not necessarily be effective for this year's. Certainly, the companies that make vaccines would be happy to make vaccines for every conceivable strain, but just who is going to pay for the unused vaccines that have a limited shelf-life? Who would bear the financial burden of increasing the production facilities to produce multiple vaccines? There would have to be an ongoing commitment to expand production.

Since flu vaccine production requires and extensive lead-time, and the flu virus easily mutates, there is still a significant possibility that the vaccines produced may not be effective against the specific strain that hits us. Who can really predict with any certainty what form the asian bird flu will be in when it hits the U.S.? I believe that there is a flu strain that now is transmittable to dogs that may possibly mutate and infect humans - another unknown strain to deal with.

Then there are the sociological factors: some people will refused to be vaccinated or refuse to allow their children to be vaccinated. Should there be forcible vaccinations? What about religious issues? How are we going to deal with the rumors that the injections are a government plot to sterilize ethnic groups?

The issue is really more complex than the cited article states.

JohnBT
October 8, 2005, 02:58 PM
"It has infected more than 100 people, about 60 of whom have died, but nearly all of these victims got the disease directly from birds."

OMG. The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling.

(Don't eat the brown chickens.)

John

longeyes
October 8, 2005, 03:25 PM
One more reason to get into the best possible physical shape. And pray.

rick_reno
October 8, 2005, 05:24 PM
OMG. The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling.

All the models are showing a 10% probability of a pandemic this flu season. Remember the buying spree that happened before Y2K? Maybe the govt is hoping to pump up the economy - given consumer spending drives a big chunk of our economy - get us spending on stuff ior the pandemic and the economic numbers would look good. Consumer spending has taken a hit recently (high fuel prices) - and corporate America doesn't need a bad attitude heading into the holiday season.

RealGun
October 8, 2005, 05:33 PM
I give Bush credit for good leadership on this issue.

rick_reno
October 8, 2005, 06:01 PM
I give Bush credit for good leadership on this issue.

I do to - if I was going to believe that this just popped on his radar.

Unfortunately, the evidence available doesn't support that claim. This virus, H5N1 avian influenza virus, which first showed up in humans eight years ago in Hong Kong and which mutates rapidly hasn't gotten any significant attention (apparently) until this flu season. Why is that? We had 3 years of Clinton - and I think we all know he was busy saving his butt to worry about a pandemic - but what has Bush done in 5 years about this problem?

If that's "good leadership" - then you and I clearly are operating from a very different standard.

WT
October 8, 2005, 06:06 PM
I'm not worried about it. It only kills guys in their 20's and 30's.

Waitone
October 8, 2005, 06:23 PM
Vaccine is specific to the virus. It takes time to make a vaccine. Epidemiogists (?sp) take an educated about what will hit the US by looking at what is going on in Asia a couple of years a head of time.

Avian flu for now is primarily bird to bird transmission. Some bird to human transmission has occurred but evidently not enough to light up the egg heads at the CDC. Perhaps now the US has seen enough to define the problem.

The US was put out of the vaccine business by the wonders of marxist economics courtesy of Hillary Clinton. Tort Terrorists in the US have just flat taken the fun out of making stuff that saves lives.

So lemme see if I got it right. We're a bunch of no-count totalitarians because the prez blows the whistle. We don't know if we ID'd the actual bug for which we can't or don't want to make a vaccine because our marxist leader and her fellow traveler Tort Terrorists.

What's going on with this bird flu ain't no different that the oil production and refining charlie foxtrot we currently endure. Government diddled the ecoomic system and the results are quite predictable.

Lone_Gunman
October 8, 2005, 06:46 PM
On Friday, President Bush invited the leaders of the nation's top six vaccine producers to the White House to cajole them into increasing their domestic vaccine capacity, and the flu plan demonstrates just how monumental a task these companies have before them.

I was under the impression that the US currently has almost no capacity to make flu vaccine, thanks to litigation concerns, and that almost all of the current flu vaccine is produced from over-seas.

ReadyontheRight
October 8, 2005, 06:52 PM
Why is it the Government's responsibility to protect us from everything?

(And if you are paying attention...they really CAN'T protect us from much of anything.)

I don't know much about this issue, but I DO know that - due to government regulations - there's very little reward for private enterprise to be in the vaccination business.

RealGun
October 8, 2005, 07:39 PM
what has Bush done in 5 years about this problem?

If that's "good leadership" - then you and I clearly are operating from a very different standard.

How does it so quickly gravitate to being Bush's shortcoming? If the disease control departments didn't bring it to the attention of the White House, I think you need to give a break here. If there is evidence that the issue has been known and ignored, then we have something to bitch about. Was GW personally aware of the issue? I have no reason to believe he was, and I certainly don't immediately assume the worst. I am not looking for reasons to pick on him or his administration. If I did have a reason, I would want it to be well founded.

wingnutx
October 8, 2005, 07:42 PM
I'm stocking up on vitamin-c and tinfoil.

ReadyontheRight
October 8, 2005, 08:36 PM
I just read this in a Drudge story:

"The real shortcoming of the plan is that it doesn't say who's in charge," said a top health official who provided the plan to The Times. "We don't want to have a FEMA-like response, where it's not clear who's running what."

Um...doesn't the Constitution have quite a bit to say about who's in charge? And probably with a lot less verbage than the reports about this.

GunGoBoom
October 8, 2005, 09:10 PM
I didn't have to read anything beyond the first two incongruent words to know that we're not ready - "Bush" and "Plan". :eek:

Headless Thompson Gunner
October 8, 2005, 09:19 PM
It isn't the government's job to keep us all from getting sick. The problem is that the gevernment has made it impossible for us all to take care of ourselves.

I can't, for instance, go out and buy avian flu vaccine on the open market. The FDA has made sure of that. My family and I will have to rely upon the government to provide that vaccine for us if we ever need it. And we all know how reliable the government is in an emergency... :fire:

If the government would stop regulating the drug companies into the ground, then there would be ample production capacity for everyone. If the government would stop regulating the sale of medicine, then we could all buy the vaccines we need for ourselves. But I guess that's too simple...

AJ Dual
October 8, 2005, 09:31 PM
I'm rather concerned about a flu pandemic, bird flu, or some other "super-flu". I've got four daughters age one and under. Two of them are only four months old, and may be too young to recieve an immunization, assuming one that's even availible, or effective.

(Two sets of twins, back-to-back 11 months apart, in case you were wondering how that was possible... :D )

However, I'll worry more, or less, once I see how bird flu does in a country with 1st world medical care and public health agencies. (assuming it gets there first, and dosen't hop the Pacific on a jet flight right into LAX... [eek])

If it's still 60% fatal in places like France, Germany or the UK, I'm gonna start worrying, and perhaps start stocking up on groceries so I can avoid all unnessecary trips through the Flu season, and possibly further. (not that unusual for us anyway, as we buy diapers and formula in bulk as it is, and groceries too, simply because getting out of the house is a challenge anyway so we try to shop bi-monthly as it is.)

60% fatality in places like Laos, rural China, Viet Nam, Romania, and Siberian Russia may not exactly translate to how "deadly" it will be in the U.S. At least that's my hope.

rick_reno
October 8, 2005, 09:56 PM
If there is evidence that the issue has been known and ignored, then we have something to bitch about. Was GW personally aware of the issue? I have no reason to believe he was, and I certainly don't immediately assume the worst.

No hang on just a minute - doesn't he appoint/hire people who are charged with making him "personally aware" of issues that might impact the Nation? I don't assume the worst either, but let's be honest - some of his appointments which have recently come under the spotlight haven't been great choices. Why are we 6th or 7th in line behind England, France, Germany, etc. in the order chain for flu vaccine? They'll get it before we do, because they PLANNED and ordered it first.
I hope a pandemic this year doesn't happen. In his defense, it does appear to be on the Bush radar now and even I think he's doing as good a job as can be done - given we're late out of the gate.

Standing Wolf
October 8, 2005, 09:57 PM
Frankly, I doubt we're ready for much of anything more complicated or dangerous than football on the idiot box.

rick_reno
October 8, 2005, 09:57 PM
If there is evidence that the issue has been known and ignored, then we have something to bitch about. Was GW personally aware of the issue? I have no reason to believe he was, and I certainly don't immediately assume the worst.

Now hang on just a minute - doesn't he appoint/hire people who are charged with making him "personally aware" of issues that might impact the Nation? I don't assume the worst either, but let's be honest - some of his appointments which have recently come under the spotlight haven't been great choices. Why are we 6th or 7th in line behind England, France, Germany, etc. in the order chain for flu vaccine? They'll get it before we do, because they PLANNED and ordered it first.
I hope a pandemic this year doesn't happen. In his defense, it does appear to be on the Bush radar now and even I think he's doing as good a job as can be done - given we're late out of the gate.

lapidator
October 8, 2005, 09:59 PM
One more reason to get into the best possible physical shape. And pray.

I didn't realize this until I looked into the financial consequences of a pandemic, but in 1918 the most physically fit were the ones who were first to die.

http://www.bmonesbittburns.com/economics/reports/20050812/avian_flu.pdf


The 1918 Influenza

Estimates on worldwide deaths from this catastrophe range all the
way from 25 million to 100 million. Some experts believe it killed
more people than the Black Death.

Estimated American deaths were 675,000, ten times as many as those
killed in action in World War I. Of the American soldiers who died
in Europe, roughly half perished from flu. Globally, the numbers
of people killed were far more—perhaps seven times—the number
who died as a direct result of the four years of the War.

The published projected average lifespan of Americans fell by 10-12
years in a few months.

The US mortality rate was roughly 2.5%, but rates in some countries
abroad were far higher: India’s was 5%. Even at that “low” American
rate, it was 25 times deadlier than ordinary flu. (According to Gina
Kolata, who published a book in 1999 on the 1918 Influenza, even
at the low end of estimated deaths worldwide, it killed more than
twice as many people in a few months as AIDS had killed through
1997. Historian Alfred Crosby says it “killed more humans than any
other disease in a period of similar duration in the history of the
world.”)

It was known as the “Spanish Flu” because of how hard it hit Spain.
Some epidemiologists believe that the virus originated in China, migrated,
and then mutated into a potent new form at a military base
in Kansas. It circulated in army camps in March and April, and rode
with the troop ships to Europe. It was still a “mild” flu that sickened
people for three days. In August, it re-emerged in mutated form as
a lethal virus in Boston. In that form it swept around the world. It
returned to Europe with the troop ships, which became known as
Death Ships. Doctors called on President Wilson to halt troop shipments.
He had caught the flu in its earlier, mild form, and refused to
accept the appeals.
For those who think this was just a particularly nasty flu, think again.
Patients’ faces turned purple as they gasped for breath and coughed
blood, while their feet turned black. They died in a form of drowning
as their lungs filled with fluid. In his publications, Dr. Osterholm
notes that the 1918 flu was particularly lethal for persons aged 20-40.
Apparently, this is because those people have survived the childhood
diseases and their bodies’ immune systems are strong. This means,
paradoxically, that their bodies are forced into a fatal overdrive when
attacked by a previously-unknown disease. This brand-new pathogen
unleashes “a classic immunologic storm…a cytokine storm….in
24 to 36 hours their lungs just become bloody rags.”


The Avian Flu H5N1 isn't important now, but it could become critical.

Lapidator

Art Eatman
October 9, 2005, 12:35 AM
One problem about which Clinton, Bush, the CDC and the rest of the US Gummint could/can do little is get accurate information out of Asia when such diseases start up. It's an economic and ego thing.

Smaller countries worry about economic losses due to any sanctions upon exports of products or of losses of income from reduced tourism. China just doesn't like to tell anybody anything, for fear of appearing to be inept or inefficent or not in full control of all aspects of society. It's a loss of face thing for the Chinese aside from any possible economic impacts.

So it takes time to actually find out about any particular strain and its actual potential. Then there comes the observation and gathering of data with the attendant problems. Last is the movement of info up through our own chain of bureaucracy. Then come the arguments pro and con as to threat assessment.

After all that comes the efforts to get the "anti-germ boffins" to work to create vaccines.

Enter now the politics of "the evil drug companies". What's-his-face that ran as VP with Kerry got his first million $$$ (so I've read) from a lawsuit involving by-product deaths from flu vaccines. So, the Big Boys of U.S. medical firms quit making the stuff. Why get sued? Makes sense to me. The end result is that Glaxo is the only game, and they ain't here in the Land Of The Lawsuit...

And so it goes...

Art

1911 guy
October 9, 2005, 01:37 AM
What we have is a virus that has killed less than 100 people over the last couple years. My condolances to the families, but in the grand scheme of things, so what?! My opinion is that while epidemics and pandemics can and do happen there is nothing we can do about it. As has been mentioned already, the fittest were among the first to fall to the 1918 bug. So there goes individual preparedness aside from isloation. We live in an ever shrinking world, so spread of any disease is going to become more dangerous. I'm surprised we haven't had serious problems already.
Actually, we have, but it's not politically expedient to talk about those. There have been over 40 cases of Leprosy on the eastern seaboard in the last ten years. A few dozen cases of Asian Encephalitis across the country from illegals bypassing health screenings and infecting us. Tuberculosis has been cited as a cause of death in several cases where the only chance of infection came from illegals. Oh, and a half dozen cases of Bubonic Plague thrown in for good measure.
So now we move on to the politics of sickness. It's not nice to point fingers at the poor illegals for infecting us, so we'll all get excited about a virus which has a low infection rate and mortality rate that makes it a near sure thing that it will either mutate into something far less virulent or burn itself out. The main thing to pay attention to here is the talk about what the plan is, not blame someone for not having a plan for a problem that is spit in the ocean. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has reported that the "plan" calls for martial enforcement of "quarantines, curfews and other emergency measures". Now look at the numbers generated by this "crisis" and tell me if you like the plan. I don't. This is nothing more than scare tactics to cow us into relinquishing more of our rights in the name of the nanny state and move us closer to the marxist ideal.

stevelyn
October 9, 2005, 09:59 AM
More contrived crisis propoganda so the sheep get their shorts in twist. :rolleyes:

Saaaaaaaave us!

shermacman
October 9, 2005, 10:09 AM
Forgive me if I don't get all hysterical and blame George W. Bush. The bird flu has killed less than a hundred people in a couple of Turd World dumps.

The media are busy stirring up panic and blame. It seems that more than a few of us here are buying into it. Remember the flu virus shortage last year that was George W. Bush's fault? Predictions of tens of thousands were going to get sick and die. This was all the fault of the CDC and of course, George W. Bush. Blame, blame, blame.

Blame has now been raised to an art-form for a disaster that hasn't even happened.

If you enjoyed reading about "Bush Plan Shows U.S. Is Not Ready for Deadly Flu" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!