Does this POTUS ever leave campaign mode? Apparently not. As the media hypes the swine flu to unreasonable heights, the POTUS decides to weigh in in the attempt to temper the hype, but can’t resist getting in another talking point for government spending.
President Barack Obama said Monday that he is closely monitoring the swine flu, and the global outbreak is cause for concern but not alarm.
“We face more complex challenges than we have ever faced before,” Obama said.
“If there was ever a day that reminded us of our shared stake in science and research, it’s today,” Obama said. “We are closely monitoring the emerging cases of swine flu in the United States. This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert. But it is not a cause for alarm.”
Obama made the remarks during a speech to the National Academy of Sciences, pointing to the potential flu pandemic as reason why the U.S. needed to boost its investment in the sciences.
“One thing is clear — our capacity to deal with a public health challenge of this sort rests heavily on the work of our scientific and medical community,” Obama said. “And this is one more example of why we cannot allow our nation to fall behind.”
“Fall behind”?? This is nothing short of a breathtaking piece of crap considering that the antidote for swine flu already exists.
No preventative vaccine for the current strain exists yet, but then it takes a particular strain to manifest before that can happen. Afterall, how does one “prevent” what does not yet exist? But the antidotes in existance work to shorten the illness once one has been infected.
Then again, considering the tragic results of the last US swine flu outbreak in 1976 at Fort Dix Army installation, vaccines (i.e. preventative flu shots) aren’t necessarily such a good alternative…. as President Gerald Ford found out the hard way.
MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. –The last time swine flu made headlines, the virus itself didn’t spread far but the fallout from the health emergency did.
A vaccination program set up in response to the 1976 outbreak on Fort Dix was blamed for more than two dozen deaths and paralyzing hundreds more people. The director of the then-Center for Disease Control was forced to resign and tens of millions of vaccine doses went undistributed.~~~
Hodder, now retired from the Northeast Center for Special Care in Lake Katrine, N.Y., said scientists in 1976 believed that the swine flu might return in 50- to 60-year cycles.
Hodder and other investigators headed to Fort Dix to test soldiers. Between Jan. 19 and Feb. 9, they found as many as 230 soldiers were infected.
Thirteen were hospitalized for respiratory illness.
By late February, health officials were warning that the outbreak on the base could be deadly if the disease moved into the general population.
The timing was a concern: New flu viruses tend to show up early in the year, then come back more forcefully the next winter.
So that March, President Gerald Ford announced a plan to immunize all Americans – about 200 million at the time – against the influenza strain seen at Fort Dix.
But the virus never spread off the base.
Researchers believe that’s partly because the soldiers in basic training had contact with only the 49 other members of their platoons and their trainers for a time.
They also believe that a more common strain of seasonal flu virus that was prevalent that winter dominated the swine flu strain.
“The swine flu strain had to compete with the A/Victoria strain for its victims,” said Franklin Top, another scientist at Walter Reed who responded to the outbreak and now a vice president of Medimmune Ventures, a subsidiary of AstraZenica. “Not very successfully.”
Top said it was clear in 1976 that the virus could spread from person to person, but it wasn’t clear how easily spread it was. The symptoms then-high fever, severe coughing and lethargy- were similar to symptoms usually seen with seasonal flu and now seen with the current swine flu, which is caused by a virus closely related to the 1976 and 1918 strains.
The vaccinations began in October 1976. But reports of people dying within days of being vaccinated brought the program to a halt within weeks.
The vaccine was later blamed for causing more than 400 cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disease that causes paralysis.
About 43 million doses of the vaccine were given before the efforts ended in what one New York Times op-ed writer later called “a fiasco, a debacle, a ghastly mistake, a medical Vietnam.”
In 1977, then-CDC Director David J. Sencer was forced to resign over the vaccine controversy.
Yeah… that’s what happened the last time the government tried to help… IMPORTANT: Remember this story when the history-challenged POTUS starts talking about preventative vaccines to push his spending agenda.
The current outbreak has helped bolster the antidote manufacturers’ stocks… . Coincidently, the venture capital company poised to benefit from this outbreak happens to be one of everyone’s favorite fear-mongering deity, Al Gore’s… specifically his prolific firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
But back to that “let no hyped crisis go to waste” bit. It might behoove Obama to realize that the antidote to the swine flu, already in existance, managed to get developed pre-Obama presidency. Gosh darn… how strange that happened without his government heavy proposed spending for any and every science project. How have we survived and fought down previous medical woes before Obama?
Of course the fact that the antidote does exist doesn’t stop the liberal machine from attacking GOPers Susan Collins and Arlen Spector for their attempts to shave down Obama’s whoppin’ “porkulus legislation” by trimming the $780 million in pandemic planning funds. Yup… how did we ever do this without Obama and his big spending buddies? What is it the O’faithful like to say about Obama’s delayed decisions on the Richard Phillip rescue from pirates? Something about “it’s the result that counts”?
The WHO (World Health Organization, not the classic British rockers, of course….) has raised the pandemic alert level to phase four out of a six point scale – meaning sustained human to human contact can cause the outbreak. The percentage of deaths to infected in hardest hit Mexico is about .09% (149 deaths to 1600 reported infected, at this writing), and no deaths among those infected in the US.
If you’re a hobbyist germ tracker, you’ll love this Google RealTime tracking map.
View H1N1 Swine Flu in a larger map
Obama’s admin has declared a public national emergency, and defacto head for handling the health scare – Homeland Security czar, Janet Napolitano – has decided to proceed as if it were an existing pandemic. (No doubt she’s welcoming the diversion from her report on the “extreme radical right” in the recent news…)
Well… sorta, anyway. Were it truly a pandemic, borders would need to be shut down, not monitored by people looking for travelers with sniffles and symptoms.
U.S. customs officials began checking people entering U.S. territory. Officers at airports, seaports and border crossings were watching for signs of illness, said Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling.
If a traveler says something about not feeling well, the person will be questioned about symptoms and, if necessary, referred to a CDC official for additional screening, Easterling said. The customs officials were wearing personal protective gear, such as gloves and masks, he said.
Besser described the new U.S. border initiative as “passive screening.” He said authorities were “asking people about fever and illness, looking for people who are ill.”
This outbreak proves inconvenient for the O’admin, catching Obama once again with his pants down on cabinet appointees. In subordinate position for fielding the (almost) pandemic is acting Director of the CDC, Richard Besser. Since Obama has yet to appoint a permanent director, who then selects his underlings, we’re stuck with that brain trust, Ms. Napolitano, as the head honcho, hunter/gatherer of data and PR.
Being as there’s quite the vacancy rate at the wrong time in the CDC, part of Ms. Napolitano’s reasoning for treating the outbreak as a public national emergency was mostly to free up resources from other departments to cover the gaps in the glaringly empty Obama CDC. As the LA Times blog (linked above) points out (also citing a Politico post):
As politico.com pointed out, the potential crisis finds gaping holes in the administration’s health team.
Not only is the Obama administration without a HHS secretary, but 19 of the agency’s key posts are still unfilled. Obama has not yet selected a surgeon general — this after CNN’s Sanjay Gupta backed out. And Obama’s choice to run the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, has still not been confirmed. Republicans balked at considering the nomination last Thursday, saying they needed more time to study the nomination, but finally agreed to an eight-hour debate tomorrow.
At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs insisted the delay has not hindered the administration’s response to the threat of a swine flu epidemic.
I want to be very clear here: There is a team in place…. This notion that somehow if there is not currently a secretary, that there is not the function that needs to take place to prepare for either this or any other situation is just simply not the case. I think it’s all hands on deck, and we’re doing fine.
In the meantime, Congressional physicians are working on a plan in case all of Congress gets the sniffles…. in the meantime passing out that gem of wisdom… wash your hands and leave work if you feel ill. Okay…
Obama did travel to Mexico just a little over a week ago. During his visit, he met with the director of the National Museum of Anthropology… who did die the next day. However the LA Times reports that was from a pre-existing pneumonia, and not the swine flu. Robert Gibbs assures us that the POTUS is fit as a fiddle, and demonstrates no symptoms. Then again, we still have the TOTUS… preferable to ol’ slow Joe as a fill in.
All in all, I sure wish the media would learn to multi-task, and quit blowing up everything out of proportion. Then again, maybe it’s a blessing for the Obama admin, getting all the talking head and blog chit chat off of his assault on the CIA and our national security.
Vietnam era Navy wife, indy/conservative, and an official California escapee now residing as a red speck in the sea of Oregon blue.