"Global pandemic preparedness and response efforts are coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a draft pandemic flu preparedness and response plan in August 2004, and a final plan in November 2005. President Bush announced a national strategy to coordinate pandemic preparedness and response activities across federal agencies. Domestic response activities will be carried out under the broad, all-hazards blueprint for a coordinated federal, state and local response laid out in the National Response Plan, released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2004. Even in light of the plans discussed above, if a flu pandemic were to occur in the next several years, the U.S. response would be affected by the limited availability of a vaccine (the best preventive measure for flu), as well as by limited availability of certain drugs used to treat severe flu infections, and by the general lack of surge capacity within our healthcare system. The U.S. healthcare system is largely private, while the public health system is largely based in state, rather than federal, authority. This structure creates numerous challenges in assuring the needed response capacity, and coordinating the various response elements. Planning is further complicated by the fact that while periodic influenza pandemics have been seen over the years, their timing and severity have been unpredictable."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33145