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Approach Bird Flu Like Financial Contagion -- Seriously

If your neighbor’s apartment is on fire, do you hoard all the water until the flames are at your door? That seems to be the U.S. response to the risk of avian influenza. The U.S. strategy (see Owen Barder’s summary U.S. Plans for Avian Flu is mostly "U.S. first." It emphasizes stockpiling existing anti-viral medications and pushing research on vaccines to serve the U.S. Particularly in the face of a global shortage, such massive stockpiling is off-base.

Gordon Brown budget affirms commitment to AMCs

Gordon Brown, the UK Finance Minister, presented his tenth annual budget today. It included a strong commitment to Advance Market Commitments. From Chapter 5 of the report:

Should we try to eradicate diseases?

Today's New York Times (free registration required) discusses whether the lesson of the campaign to eradicate polio is that it is more effective to control than to try to eradicate diseases:

Today the struggling drive against polio has raised new questions about whether eradication of any disease is achievable, and, if so, whether the cost in terms of effort and dollars would be worth it, given all the other diseases that need attention.

US plans for avian flu

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt reported this week on preparations for a possible influenza pandemic, promised to act soon to boost US flu vaccine production capacity and promote cell-based vaccine technology.

How High the Ceiling? US Proposal on Agricultural Subsidies Would Make Caps Meaningless

While US negotiators continue to hammer on the European Union to improve its offer on agricultural market access in the Doha trade talks, US intransigience is holding up progress on agricultural subsidy cuts. One of the few achievements thus far in the negotiations is agreement that there should be caps on the amount of subsidy for specific commodities, such as cotton. US negotiators are insisting on using 1999-2001 as the base period for setting these caps, while other negotiators want to use a longer period average, for 1995-2000.

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