Reports

Pandemic Influenza: The State of the Science

An Issue Brief from Trust for America's Health and the Infectious Diseases Society of America

October 2006

In a report issued in October 2006, Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) raised concerns that pandemic flu preparedness efforts are falling behind advances in science and technology. The scientific and health groups issued a set of policy recommendations that outline actions that should be taken now to better prepare the nation for a pandemic flu outbreak.

TFAH and IDSA recommend that:

  • The U.S. develop a Pandemic Vaccine Research and Development Master Plan to systemize and greatly enhance the current U.S. and international vaccine research and development strategies, bringing together the knowledge of government and private industry scientists. The program would provide a comprehensive approach to vaccine development, production, and delivery. A substantial increase in federal funding would be required to match the scale needed for this effort.
  • The U.S. adopt policies to increase seasonal influenza vaccination rates to reduce rates of illness and death from yearly influenza and stabilize the nation's vaccine manufacturing and distribution capabilities. This includes encouraging state and local health departments to use federal preparedness funds to purchase annual flu vaccine in order to test mass vaccination capabilities. This would be an important way to exercise our capacity to conduct mass vaccinations in a public health emergency.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue to streamline the licensure process for pandemic flu vaccine to make the vaccine available for public use as quickly as possible; and to adopt appropriate criteria that will allow foreign clinical trial data to speed the use of advances made in other countries into the U.S.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implement a nationwide, real-time system to track the use and effectiveness of vaccine, which is needed to make the most efficient use possible of limited amounts of vaccine.
  • The U.S. expand and strengthen working relationships with other countries to improve the ability to identify and respond to an outbreak as soon as possible.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) increase the amount of antiviral medication in the Strategic National Stockpile to be able to treat at minimum 25 percent of the U.S. population. The current model requiring states to cover 75 percent of purchasing costs for well over one third of the stockpile will likely lead to inequities leaving some communities less protected than others due to differing financial resources in states.
  • The Congress rapidly pass and the Administration implement the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act to improve the country's public health response capabilities and expand programs critical to supporting innovation in the private sector.