George W. Bush Urged Us to Prepare for Future Pandemics in 2005

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‘If we wait for a pandemic to appear, it will be too late to prepare’ — George W. Bush warned about getting ahead of something like COVID-19 way back in 2005.

“A pandemic is a lot like a forest fire,” Bush said at the time. “If caught early it might be extinguished with limited damage. If allowed to smolder, undetected, it can grow to an inferno that can spread quickly beyond our ability to control it.”

National Pandemic Influenza Plans

In 2005 and 2006, the White House Homeland Security Council outlined the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Cdc-pdf[358 KB, 17 pages] and National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan Cdc-pdf[4.2 MB, 233 pages] to guide the United States’ preparedness and response activities in an influenza pandemic. These plans aimed to stop, slow or otherwise limit the spread of a pandemic to the United States; limiting domestic spread, mitigating disease, suffering and death; and sustaining infrastructure and lessening the effects on the economy and society as a whole. At the same time, HHS framed its Pandemic Influenza Plan Cdc-pdf[1.0 MB, 52 pages] around a doctrine that laid out guiding principles for pandemic influenza preparedness and response.

Since 2005, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has worked with partners in public health, health care, and emergency management to make significant strides in improving the nation’s pandemic influenza preparedness. Today, there is a well-established domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity, stockpiles of influenza vaccines and therapeutics, and evidence-based guidance on prevention, mitigation and treatment available for state and local governments, the private sector, individuals, and families.

The nation now faces new challenges — how to sustain the advances made, how to keep up with the changes in how people live and work for example — and these challenges call for new approaches to better protect the nation against influenza pandemics. As part of HHS’ overarching strategy to address these new challenges, seven focus areas (“Domains”) Cdc-pdf[1.0 MB, 52 pages] have been developed to guide future efforts to improve pandemic influenza preparedness. HHS anticipates that the capacity and capabilities developed for pandemic influenza preparedness will enable HHS to respond more effectively to other emerging infectious diseases as well.

Preparing for the next pandemic is an ongoing, iterative process. HHS will continue to refine its approach and incorporate lessons learned as it continues to prepare the nation for the next pandemic.

Pandemic Influenza Plans and Strategies:

HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan Updates:

National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan One Year Summary (July 17, 2007)

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