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John R. La Montagne Memorial Symposium on Pandemic Influenza Research: Meeting Proceedings
it if needed. I applaud the remarkable effort that this took, and the close working relationship between our agencies, the vaccine companies, state and local health officials, and healthcare providers that made it possible.
In spite of such challenges as that one, we’ve made great progress on influenza preparedness over the past few years. Flu preparation is an international responsibility, and I know many of you are involved in projects around the world.
My study of this matter has been short in duration by intensive, and the best in the world. Flu virus is a networked enemy. We must fight it with a networked army.
The United States will take precautions necessary to protect this country but we know our success is dependent on others protecting their own countries.
When you fight a networked enemy, a mainframe response will not do. Let me just mention a few steps we’ve taken here in the United States:
HHS is working to bring more influenza vaccine manufacturers into the domestic market through the joint efforts of CDC, FDA, NIH, our National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO), and the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness.
We’re working to accelerate the development of new influenza vaccine formulation and production techniques that will allow us to have a flexible surge capacity to make the doses of vaccine that we would need in a pandemic.
We’re devoting an unprecedented amount of resources to vaccine research, development, and procurement, and we want to increase the routine seasonal use of influenza vaccine for all who would benefit from it.
On Friday, I was delighted to announce a contract with Sanofi Pasteur for the development of an influenza vaccine produced in cell culture rather than eggs.
We’re doing all we can to ensure that Americans are healthy and protected against the flu. And everything we do to improve our approach to seasonal influenza prepares us to respond to an influenza pandemic.
In the past century, the world experienced three global outbreaks, or pandemics, of influenza. The recent emergence and persistence of a new influenza virus in birds in Asia and its infection of a limited number of humans with a high mortality rate has raised concern among scientists and public health professionals about the possibility of another pandemic influenza.
Dr. Julie Gerberding will talk more about this situation later this morning.
I am sure that most of you have seen the HHS draft Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan we released last August, and I know that many of you have submitted comments. We're grateful for all of your input. I expect we will have the next revision out in the next few months. I am hopeful that the discussions and deliberations at this important meeting will feed into this effort.
And as part of our commitment to preparedness against the possibility of a pandemic, I am pleased to report that NIH has very recently begun clinical trials of a vaccine specifically designed against the H5N1 strain of avian influenza that is currently circulating in Asia. We have also gone ahead and produced 2 million doses of this vaccine in bulk. You will hear more about these efforts from Dr. Fauci later this morning.