George Bush needs more money to cope with bird flu

U.S. President George Bush is about to reveal his plans to fight a flu pandemic and apparently he will ask Congress for funding for a vaccine against bird flu as well as infrastructure to deal with any pandemic.

Mr Bush is due to visit the National Institutes of Health to announce the White House strategy on how to prepare for the next flu pandemic, whether it is caused by the bird flu in Asia or some other super strain of influenza.

Federal health officials have spent the last year updating a national plan on how to do that.

It is expected his Administration will put forward recommendations on how to isolate those affected by a flu virus, and it seems state governors and city mayors have already been asked to identify staff who will inject the stockpiled vaccines.

The U.S. Government is already in the process of spending $162 million on vaccines against the H5N1 strain of bird flu, and is ordering millions of doses of Tamiflu and Relenza, two antiflu drugs believed to offer some protection against bird flu.

Months of stalling and delays have angered some senators who have already given the President funds to begin those preparations.

Emergency funding to the tune of $8 billion was approved last week, and an amount considered close to what federal health officials will need.

Senators have said the money should be used both for medications and vaccine and also for helping hospitals and other systems update their ability to detect and contain a pandemic.

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