Department of Health and Human Services outlines national vaccine strategy

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued a new report outlining a more aggressive national strategy for the production of medical countermeasures used to new viruses or superbugs in emergency situations.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a news conference on August 19 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the release of "The Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise Review: Transforming the Enterprise to Meet Long-range National Needs."

The report is a blueprint of the current process of countering the existence of unknown threats and how it will be transformed in the near future to improve medical responses in health crises. Sebelius commissioned the report after viewing the challenges HHS faced in the wake of the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.

“We don't know where the next public health crisis will come from,” Sebelius said at the news conference, according to Modern Health Care. “It may be a dirty bomb in a car, a new virus or superbug or a biological weapon never seen before that was assembled by a terrorist.”

Included in the strategy are upgrades to the regulatory capacity of the Food and Drug Administration, the development of faster manufacturing processes that could be used for multiple vaccines, the creation of technology teams at the National Institutes of Health to identify promising research, the fostering of young biotech companies to develop new countermeasures and upgrades to the existing process of influenza vaccine manufacture.

To fund these ambitious goals, Sebelius said that the federal government would be investing $2 billion.

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