Iowa Public Television


Bird Flu Vaccine Shortage Eyed

posted on July 1, 2005

The government has not stockpiled enough of the only drug known to be effective against bird flu but is in "aggressive discussions" with its maker to buy more, federal health officials said this week.

Enough Tamiflu to treat 2.3 million people is in a national stockpile of drugs and vaccines being set aside in preparation for the next flu pandemic -- a worldwide outbreak that influenza specialists fear could be triggered by the increasingly worrisome bird flu in Asia.

Negotiations are under way to buy enough Tamiflu pills for an additional two million people, with more purchases possible later.

That still would cover only 2 percent of the population, well short of World Health Organization recommendations that countries set aside enough Tamiflu for one-quarter of their people. That would place the U.S. 62 million people short of WHO guidelines.

Tags: animals birds diseases influenza news vaccines