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Bush's Bird Flu Plan: Who's Really Getting Innoculated?

Reported by Ellen - November 3, 2005

Last night on Hannity & Colmes (11/2/05), Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt touted the new Bush Bird Flu preparations. Rich Lowry (subbing for Sean Hannity) asked the revealing questions.

Alan Colmes started the discussion by mentioning that the government might order "travel restrictions" in the event of a severe outbreak but he never clarified with Leavitt what kinds of restrictions we should expect and under what circumstances.

During Lowry's part of the interview, Leavitt said the president's plan would "allow" the vaccine industry to be "revitalized." Read giveaway!

Lowry asked what role "frivolous and out of control lawsuits" play in the manufacturing problem.

Leavitt said it's part of the problem (meaning, it's only part of the giveaway). Leavitt said the vaccine manufacturers "clearly have to have protection" from lawsuits, "some level of certainty that there'll be someone there to buy their product," and "regulatory relief, not to cut corners but to streamline the process."

Lowry then asked whether, if the flu mutates to the point that it becomes a pandemic, wouldn't that mean that the billion dollars "or more" worth of vaccine stockpiled would not innoculate against the new strain?

Leavitt said Lowry was correct, that if the virus mutated, the vaccine would not have "a full" response but that it would do "some good" and that it's "better than nothing" (how much better he never said) for the "six months" that it would take to develop a new strain. In other words, the only calculable benefits will be the amounts going from the taxpayers' pockets into big pharma's pockets.

Let's hope that six months isn't like the "cakewalk" in Iraq.

Oh, and speaking of Iraq, nobody mentioned that Donald Rumsfeld is making quite a sweet profit from the plan. As reported in The Blue State .com,

The company that the Administration chose to rely on for Tamiflu is Gilead Sciences. What they don't want you to know is the fact that Donald Rumsfeld once Chaired of (sic) that company. Obviously, immediately after being nominated to become Bush's Defense Secretary, Rumsfeld resigned his post. However, he still owns a stake in the company valued at between $5 million and $25 million.

During the summer, as traders got word that the Administration would likely rely on Gilead Sciences to produce more Tamiflu, the stock has soared. Rumsfeld has made an estimated $1 million in the last six months as a result of the stock price jumping from $35 to $47 per share. Financial experts conclude that Gilead Sciences will continue to rise.

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