That was then, this is now — pandemic response capabilities

From 2005:

Before adjourning last week, the US Senate passed and sent to President Bush a bill providing $3.8 billion for pandemic influenza preparedness and a controversial liability shield for those who produce and administer drugs and vaccines used in a declared public health emergency.

The preparedness funding and liability protection were part of the fiscal year 2006 defense spending bill passed by the Senate on the evening of Dec 21. The bill had cleared the House 2 days earlier.

The $3.8 billion for pandemic preparedness is a little more than half of the $7.1 billion Bush had requested in early November. House Republican leaders said last week the measure would fund roughly the fiscal year 2006 portion of Bush’s request.

As reported previously, the amount includes $350 million to improve state and local preparedness and directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to use most of the rest on “core preparedness activities,” including increasing vaccine production capacity, developing vaccines, and stockpiling antiviral drugs.

The liability provision offers broad legal protection for the makers of drugs, vaccines, and other medical “countermeasures” used when the HHS secretary declares an emergency. The provision says people claiming injury from a medical countermeasure can sue only if they prove “willful misconduct” by those who made or administered it. The bill calls for Congress to set up a compensation program for injuries, but it provides no funds for that purpose.

…But Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and some other Democrats, along with consumer groups such as Public Citizen, derided the liability provision as a giveaway to the drug industry.

I am pleased to have argued for this in the time period leading up to this legislation, let us continue to hope we do not need it.


Trump has been taking money from appropriated for defense in response to a national emergency already. It is to be assumed that if a new pandemic arises, under his leadership, Congress will have no say in how he decides to spend whatever money he feels necessary to keep America safe.

Just reaping what his predecessor sowed.


Is this true? Did predecessors grossly redistribute congressional funding?

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I own a pen too, no doubt I am equally responsible.


I'm tired of "how can you complain about the pile of poo on your dinner plate when you know the FDA says it's legal for rat droppings to be 1 part in a billion in all our food" as an argument to diminish Trump's harm.

Taking money from national defense to build a wall for national defense! What is wrong with that???

Of course a big government libertarian like you would vote for socialized medicine like this. More death panels please!

"can sue only if they prove willful misconduct"

This doesn't make any sense. "Can only sue" sounds like prior restraint against a lawsuit like an anti-SLAPP law. But "if they prove willful misconduct" makes it sound like it allows discovery and a trial. No pharma company wants to go through discovery, nor deal with citizen jurors, who are unpredictabl idiots about mediical stuff. Previous vaccine protection has been in the form of the special vaccine court with no jury, which is notoriously anti-plaintiff, but that's a different approach.

The reason the industry needs a "liability shield" is because of blatant past misuses of our courts by ambulance chasing lawyers. No intelligent person would develop a new vaccine in this country knowing our court system would bankrupt them on trumped up charges,

This is pretty much faith based reasoning. What company was bankrupted before by vaccine lawsuits?

None, but the Vaccine companies in the US stopped making certain vaccines because they couldn't obtain liability insurance.

"In the United States, low profit margins and an increase in vaccine-related lawsuits led many manufacturers to stop producing the DPT vaccine by the early 1980s. By 1985, vaccine manufacturers had difficulty obtaining liability insurance. The price of DPT vaccine skyrocketed, leading providers to curtail purchases, limiting availability. Only one company was still manufacturing pertussis vaccine in the US by the end of 1985. Because of this, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) in 1986, establishing a federal no-fault system to compensate victims of injury caused by mandated vaccines."

So since vaccines of all types have been available after 1986, including some new vaccines such as the invention of the one against HPV which prevent cervical cancer, what need was there for additional liability protection in 2005?

Because trial lawyers have no conscience and will stoop to anything. They take these trials into dirt poor cities in Mississippi or Texas where the population of potential jurors have no high school education and IQ's below 80.

If they aren't fit to be jurors then should they have electors in the Presidential election?

Here's Senator Obama's AVIAN Act bill in April of the same year for "preparation for an influenza pandemic, including an avian influenza pandemic":

"One year after publishing the draft pandemic flu plan, the [Bush] administration has still not released the final HHS Pandemic Flu Preparedness Plan," Obama said in his 2005 Senate speech.

From Senator Obama's 2005 speech:

"Mr. President, at this point, no one should be surprised. The experts have told us repeatedly that a flu pandemic is inevitable, although the timing is unpredictable. In other words, the question is not if, but when. This spread of avian flu is our warning signal, and we need to heed this call to action."

"The last condition--the ability for the virus to travel efficiently from human to human--has not been met, and it is the only thing preventing a full blown pandemic. Once this virus mutates and can be transmitted from human to human, we will not be able to contain this disease."

Just more drivelling TDS, as Trump has already said that the coronavirus will go away by spring.

Pull out a calculator, if infections double every 3 days. How many are infected in 3 months? Hint, if one person is infected today, in three months that's over a billion people. With a 1% death rate, that's 10 million dead. If say, 10 people are currently infected with the disease that's 100 million dead. (By the way, Trump said summer not spring. Viruses tend to slow in summer because of the humidity. We don't actually know if this one will. It is not only spread by sneezing, but also through feces.)

"because of the humidity" LMFAO!!! Thanks, you've made my morning.

There are viruses whose spread is seriously impeded by humidity. Covid-19? We don't know.

+1, the speculation I've heard is that 2019-nCov is a relatively small virus and therefore it's aerosol spread is worse than normal. However, high humidity might well change that dynamic.

If the mortality rate is 1%, then it cannot be 100 million dead, because there are fewer than 10 billion people on Earth. Barring reinfections, at least.

True if infections double every 3 days the entire world would have been infected already. The actual dynamics are more subtle. Infections more than double at the beginning then they less than double as the virus has a hard time finding anyone in a town or city who isn't already infected but the speeds up again as the virus finds virgin territory.

I wonder what the effect of quarantine is on evolution. Mild cases should spread more easily as they are harder to detect. It seems possible that even if aggressive quarantine does not stop spread, it might apply enough evolutionary pressure to significantly decrease mortality compared to natural spread. I assume this is something that could easily be modeled. Has anyone done so?

I read one estimate that the massive quarantine China did might have delayed the virus 3 days or so for China and 3 weeks for the rest of the world.

Something to consider, 20% of those who show up at hospitals sick need ICU care. Even if the mortality rate is low, a massive influx of people needing extended ICU care is a massive strain on the system so anything that spreads out or slows down the infection is probably helpful.

It may go away for summer... and come right back next fall.

That's a pretty big issue. It's quite possible that it's spread wide enough to be endemic. Clearly, as both Iran and Italy show, it's been spreading across the world undetected.

Trump's budget this year aims to reduce WHO funds for these types of situations by billions of dollars.

Do you have a link? Or even better, a direct Trump quote? At which point, the comment will be removed, since quoting Trump seems to be a real MR sore spot recently. Probably just more proof of how completely TDS has taken over.

Here you go:

Foreign Policy is a bastion of never trump types and #RESISTers, always need a second, reliable source when you reference such ideological bastions.

Yawn, 'ideological bastions' means anyone who isn't directly on Trump's payroll (or a bottom feeder grifting off his name) at this point.

WH proposed budgets are, as always, dead on arrival.

It’s a signaling document and can be safely ignored.

Articulation of priorities. That's why you don't ignore it.

Seems a great opportunity for a prize based incentive scheme. Offer say 10 billion dollars for the company that first successfully produces a vaccine for the virus, with another 10 billion for delivery of the first 1 million vaccinations. Amount to increase every month after Jan 2021 by 1 billion dollars. I would even suggest a second prize of 5 billion dollars to encourage as many people to work on this as possible and avoid any premature victories. I would bet that you would have thousands of groups of people working on this world wide. This is chump change compared to the economic damage it would do. Heck I would even support this as a crowd funded effort.

Yes and let's make sure the US pays the for it through our bankruptcy inducing health insurance plans even though China will see most of the benefits. Economic cuckoldry at its finest. This is why Trump and Sanders are your only choices this year folks!

Yea China gets all the benefit of flu vaccines. Reality check, this virus has long since moved beyond China.

Sen. Edward Kennedy ... ah yes, a man who knew all about giveaways, quite a bit about drugs, and had a famously high respect for human life.

Yes and because a group of cranks were afraid that a company would make a profit, the liability measure is called “controversial “. One of the many ways reporting bypasses the thinking organ and goes straight to the emotions.

So what? Under Sanders' socialized medicine, everyone and his dog will be immortal and have lots of ponies.Now everything is its opposite.

Let us be blunt: the so-called coronavirus has killed fewer people than tpa common flu. The situation is under control.

My point is, the situation is under control. Panicking now will only make things get out of hand and waste money.

You are uninformed. There is now community spread in at least 5 countries outside of China (Italy, Iran, Japan, and Singapore). That means current infections in those countries have no traceable connection to China. In the U.S. we are only testing people with a know connection to Wuhan. In addition, the testing kits from the CDR have had a problem making them useless for the last 10 days. We aren't currently having an outbreak in the U.S. because no one is aggressively looking for the virus. It seems based on the available evidence that it takes two weeks for the virus to kill. If true, then the virus has been active in those 5 countries for at least two weeks. The Health Minister of Singapore has been honest about the inability contain the virus. China is claiming that the virus is under control, but they just cancelled their national parliament, which has not happened since the Cultural Revolution.

Forgot to include South Korea in my list of countries with community spread.

Except for Italy, with a few cases, those are Asian countries. There is no way it can get in the West in any meaningful way.

cough* leave * ugh & co !

For those of you who don't realize it, this is a meme based off of what the paid Chinese shills have been posting all over the web.

That legislation was 15 years ago, yet Tyler seems unable to show us any demonstrable results from it. What preparedness did it accomplish? How has vaccine production capacity improved? How much antiviral medication has been stockpiled, of which kinds? And will any of these preparations, assuming some actually occurred, play a role in combating the coronavirus?

Does Tyler need to help you on this? Hasn't a large quarantine system moved smoothly into motion?

It will be ironic if the Democrats are attacking Trump at the time of the election for not having sent enough people to concentration camps.

How much was really spent? If you spent a billions stockpiling drugs and supplies 15 years ago, most of that would be long expired at this point.

The liability protection is relevant only if a firm develops a vaccine, but if no vaccines are developed, liability protection is irrelevant. Why not declare Elon Musk not liable for anyone he kills in the next 5 years sending to Mars on rocket ships?

Enabling extraordinary measures during an emergency is part of HHS' job, but I don't think it's a good idea to legalize unregulated human experimentation. Pharmaceutical malpractice is not preferable to standard quarantine and outbreak response. The coronavirus has infected ~80,000 and killed approximately 3%, though with probably many more unknown cases at the moment. An emergency-production run of vaccine would potentially be administered to tens of millions of Americans. If a vaccine requires the use of a live virus: in an emergency time-crunch, without liability, what are the odds that you end up accidentally spreading the disease or some other contaminant to millions of people. Do you really want to play those odds?

I know this is how things work in the movies: some maverick scientist risking the odds and throwing procedure out the window. But that's not how things work in the real world. Real world public health is about developing calm-headed procedures and implementing them in emergency situations.

I always appreciate the fact that people ignore risks until it is too late to do anything about them. Public Health orgs have been warning us for years both about our inadequate infrastructure for vaccines as well as our inadequate infrastructure for pandemics. We chose to do nothing. (Well, almost all of us). Are we, as a species, too stupid to survive? The evidence isn't clear, but most recently - in the last 50 yrs or so- we seem to have lost our way.

We rarely address a thing until it reaches a crisis point. Few citizens and politicians seem to have any kind of vision for the future. It's all about what's happening right now. That's why it's impossible to garner a real proactive movement to mitigate global warming or global pandemics.

The threat of pandemic was apparent as far back as 1918, with the Spanish flu, and we even got several recent practice runs with SARS and H1N1. If things go really bad, it will be in large part due to our own and failure to prepare.

As a species, we'll survive one way or another, but who survives is probably going to be more a matter of luck rather than good planning.

It seems that WHO has been highly reluctant to classify 2019nCov as a Pandemic. However, the rapid outbreaks in both Iran and Italy over the last 5 days make the Pandemic classification inevitable at this point.

CBC article goes after both China and the WHO.

"Why some experts are questioning China's coronavirus claims
Lack of transparency, dubious numbers recall effort to downplay SARS outbreak

A report from another Wuhan doctor, Zhang Hong, published in The Lancet medical journal earlier this month, revealed that seven other area physicians were cautioned by police after flagging suspicious pneumonia cases in early December. ... Local papers in Wuhan reported sparingly on the illness in early January, mostly denying that it existed,

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director general, has been effusive in his praise for the "extraordinary measures" that China is taking to combat COVID-19. ...So is China's commitment to transparency and to supporting other countries," he said shortly after the emergency was declared. "In many ways, China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response. It's not an exaggeration."

"As of December 2007, HHS has obligated approximately $4.3 billion in pandemic influenza funds and has unobligated balances totaling $1.2 billion from the two emergency supplemental appropriations bills. HHS has obligated an additional $1.3 billion since the June 2007 report."

About $3 billion went to H5N1 influenza-specific vaccines, $1 billion went to anti-virals such as Tamiflu and Relenza (which to date have not proven themselves against Covid-19).

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