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Committee Leaders Press HHS for Status of Pandemic Influenza Plan, Amidst Global Concerns

Apr 21, 2017
Letter Follows up on Post-Hearing Q&A Requesting Update on National Preparedness

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Thursday requesting information about the status of the department’s Pandemic Influenza Plan.

During an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing in November 2015, the committee reviewed the federal public health preparedness for the seasonal flu. Subcommittee member Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) issued a question for the record following the hearing, inquiring with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and HHS if our national public health response was prepared to respond to a possible pandemic.

An August 2016 response to the committee reads, “HHS is reviewing the HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan (2005) and preparing a revised plan that acknowledges our progress in MCM [medical countermeasures] development and will incorporate lessons learned from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and other influenza outbreaks. …The new HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan is slated for release in late 2016.”

In the letter sent to HHS on Thursday, chairmen Walden and Murphy write, “As of the date of this letter, HHS has not yet released the Pandemic Influenza Plan. The need for the updated Pandemic Influenza Plan is vital as there is a current potential pandemic threat.”

The leaders continued, “The H7N9 avian influenza virus that emerged in 2013 is suddenly spreading in China, causing 918 laboratory-confirmed human infections and 359 deaths, as of January 16, 2017, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). …The WHO Director-General warned that H7N9 is particularly worrying as it could be a flu pandemic strain.”

Click HERE to read a copy of the letter.

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