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Bird Flu Threat Rises

WHO Expert Panel: World 1 Step Closer to Killer Flu

Action Needed

The WHO panel recommends rapid action, including:

  • Improving cooperation and information sharing among all human and animal health agencies.
  • Improved surveillance of all clusters of human infections.
  • Regular meetings of a WHO task force.
  • An international stockpile of antiviral drugs.
  • Nations should rehearse their rapid response plans to contain early flu outbreaks.
  • WHO should explore ways to make human H5N1 vaccine available to affected Asian countries before the start of a pandemic.

Osterholm calls for a huge U.S. effort.

"Planning for a pandemic must be on the agenda of every public health agency, school board, manufacturing plant, investment firm, mortuary, state legislature, and food distributor," he writes.

If a pandemic were 10 years off, Osterholm says a "worldwide influenza Manhattan Project" to develop and distribute a vaccine "just might make a real difference."

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