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[By the Bayou] In testimony before the House of Representatives, Tommy Thompson explained that while "private investment should drive the development of most medical products," only the government was in a position to develop those products that "everyone hopes...will never be needed" as a protection against "rare yet deadly threats." The government, in other words, was willing to spend lots of money on biological threats that were unlikely or farfetched but not on antivirals or new antibiotics for the diseases that were actually most menacing, like avian flu.

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Some related posts from Technorati and Google.[] Avian Flu: A State of Unreadiness: Italso pointed to a major contradiction in business-as-usualreliance on the private sector: "Because no marketexists for vaccine after [flu season], manufacturers switch theircapacity to other uses between about mid-August andDecember." At minimum, HHS needed to find some wayto keep production lines running full time, all year long, as well asdiversify the number of companies committed to vaccine production. Inaddition, the GAO chided HHS for dithering over whether to stockpileantivirals, even as top influenza experts were begging the government toprocure as much oseltamivir (Tamiflu)--the most potent antiviralmedicine for avian flu now available--as possible.[] Just a Bump in the Beltway: Unarmed: Certainly the leading influenza researchers, from the first H5N1 outbreak in 1997, have been doing their utmost to alert medical colleagues worldwide to the urgent threat of avian flu, as well as outlining the immediate steps the Bush Administration and other governments needed to take. As befitted his position as "pope" of influenza researchers, Robert Webster of Saint Jude Hospital in Memphis tirelessly preached the same sermon: "If a pandemic happened today, hospital facilities would be overwhelmed and understaffed because many medical personnel would be afflicted with the disease.

Samizdata.net [] Sports Archives | Football is thus what you might call a suitable focus for rational fantasy. Second or even third ranking clubs really can beat the big boys, sometimes.

[] Preoccupations: Current Affairs: A day after moving his News Corporation to the US, Rupert Murdoch got to work ingratiating himself with the locals yesterday, telling George Bush he was on his way to an easy victory in this year's presidential election. Unperturbed by images of a mass insurrection in Iraq, or opinion polls that show a slow erosion of support for the president in what promises to be an exceedingly close vote, the media magnate predicted that Mr Bush would coast to a second term in November.

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