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Press Releases :: December 8, 2005

Gordon Highlights Gaps in Administration's Pandemic Plan

Will Host Discussion with Pandemic Experts Next Week

U.S. House Science Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) today called on Administration officials to reexamine their plan to fight potential U.S. flu outbreaks in an effort to insure local officials have the necessary information to protect citizens.

In a letter today to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt, Ranking Member Gordon outlined gaps he uncovered in the nation’s pandemic preparedness plan and called on the Agency to address important issues facing our communities in such a crisis.

"Should a highly lethal form of flu surface in the next few years, the biological sciences will not save us. Vaccines and even anti-viral drugs will simply not be available in sufficient amounts for several years.  In the meantime, public health authorities will have at hand the same tools that have historically been available: social distancing policies like quarantines and travel restrictions," said Rep. Gordon.

In early November, President Bush announced a national strategy for pandemic influenza.  The following day, the HHS released its long-awaited Pandemic Influenza Plan.  Ranking Member Gordon’s analysis of both plans reveals their failure to make effective use of social science research, potentially endangering the very audience they are designed to aid.

Gordon continued, "We need to know what our best experts in social distancing, risk communications and human behavior have to tell us regarding optimal responses.  We need a plan that helps us prepare for tomorrow as well as the day after tomorrow - that is where the HHS plan falls short."

"Investing in biological research and stockpiling of medicines is the right thing to do because these investments can make a huge difference in our ability to protect the public," he added.  "But, it is wrong not to fund more research and disseminate the best information on what the social sciences can tell us about effective public health response strategies, because those are the strategies that Federal, state and local authorities will have to rely on until the biological investments begin to pay off."

Rep. Gordon will also host a discussion with biosecurity, communications and behavioral science experts on this topic next week:

Gaps in the National Flu Preparedness Plan:
Social Science Planning and Response
will be held Wednesday, December 14 at 2:00 p.m.
2318 Rayburn House Office Building

This event will be open to the public.

Read Rep. Gordon's letter »
More information on Avian Influenza »

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