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While the US Administration has busied itself making lengthy lists of what to do in the event of an avian influenza outbreak (as reported in Sunday's Washington Post), one question keeps coming to my mind: Why aren’t we figuring out how to make sure that the needed vaccines and drugs are manufactured in sufficient quantity to share with the rest of the world? Human-to-human transmission is very likely to start overseas, and could be at least temporarily contained if resources and plans were in place. But according to a State Department fact sheet our leaders, who perhaps didn’t get the highest grade in Public Health 101, seem intent on describing their priorities as "Protecting our people by stockpiling vaccines and antiviral drugs while improving the capacity to produce new vaccines." Stop worrying so much about the US stockpile; start figuring out how to get enough stuff to the places where it can be used to save lives and slow the spread.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.