Influenza Pandemic: HHS Needs to Continue Its Actions and Finalize Guidance for Pharmaceutical Interventions, Report to Congressional Requesters, United States Congress   [open pdf - 1MB]

This is a GAO (Government Accountability Office) report, in which "GAO was asked to provide information on the progress of the Department of Health and Human Services's (HHS) plans for responding to a pandemic, including analyzing how HHS plans to (1) use pharmaceutical interventions to treat infected individuals and protect the critical workforce and (2) use nonpharmaceutical interventions to slow the spread of disease. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed government documents and scientific literature, and interviewed HHS officials, state and local public health officials, and subject-matter experts on pandemic response. GAO recommends that HHS expeditiously finalize guidance to assist state and local jurisdictions to determine how to effectively use limited supplies of antivirals and pre-pandemic vaccine in a pandemic, including prioritizing target groups for pre-pandemic vaccine. In comments on a draft of this report, HHS described additional actions it has taken and plans to take relating to GAO's recommendation, including releasing for public comment in the near future proposed guidance on pre-pandemic vaccine allocation. [...] The emergence of the H5N1 avian influenza virus (also known as 'bird flu') has raised concerns that it or another virus might mutate into a virulent strain that could lead to an influenza pandemic. Experts predict that a severe pandemic could overwhelm the nation's health care system, requiring the rationing of limited resources."

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