By Martin J. Blaser
November 02, 2005
IDSA believes the pandemic clock is ticking; we just don't know what time it is. By strengthening global surveillance activities and reinvigorating the development of vaccines and antivirals, the president's strategy will go a long way toward pandemic influenza preparedness. This preparedness will yield important health benefits, even if the next pandemic does not appear for years. IDSA specifically supports the proposed investments for new cell-based vaccine technologies and incentives to lure new manufacturers into the vaccine and antimicrobial market, such as liability protections. Although the president did not mention tax credits, we also support such incentives for research and manufacturing to motivate industry to produce new vaccines, antivirals, and antibiotics, particularly within U.S. borders.
Significant issues remain to be resolved, however, including investment in state and local preparedness, surge capacity, and risk communication.
We realize that the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) pandemic preparedness and response plan, which will soon be released, will include more specific details about the president's strategy. As soon as the new plan comes out, IDSA will review it carefully with an eye toward continued refinement, including the following safeguards:
Preparing for pandemic flu is like preparing for a professional football game. You need a sophisticated and well-thought-out playbook. You need good, strong players. You need to plot out the scenarios, and every player needs to practice and know the drill. But once you are on the field, you need the flexibility to think fast and change the game plan when the need arises.
The president's strategy provides an initial framework with strong potential. Success will require a long-term commitment and coordinated effort from the state and local government, the medical profession, business, and the American people.
Martin J. Blaser, MD,
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