White House set to announce H5N1 plans

The White House is expected to release the latest version of its plan to combat a possible H5N1 pandemic on Tuesday. President Bush will announce details of the government strategy at a press conference at the National Institutes of Health. The new strategy is said to emphasize early detection and a decentralized response plan in which local and state governments will be expected to play a key role. The administration is also expected to warn that a pandemic could last much longer than anticipated, perhaps as long as 12 to 18 months. The White House is expected to detail steps it could take to keep the economy running smoothly during that time.

- see this article from The Washington Post

PLUS: Meanwhile, there were several significant developments likely to impact the supply of influenza vaccine. Swiss drug giant Novartis announced a $5.1 billion deal to complete its takeover of Chiron. At the same time, Chiron had some good news on its end, announcing a phase I/II trial of its cell-culture influenza vaccine. Proponents argue cell-based techniques will allow researchers to develop vaccines to fight new influenza strains much more quickly. Article | Article