On Thursday, President Obama designated $1.825 billion in an emergency effort to fight the spread of the H1N1 strain of influenza known as swine flu. The money comes from the $7.65 billion in funds that Congress has already appropriated to the Department of Health and Human Services to deal with the swine flu pandemic.
The money the president set aside is intended to be used to educate, approve and buy vaccines to fight the swine flu. But some experts say that money will be of little help if there is not enough of the new vaccine, and that an ugly "global grab" for the shots could be brewing. Indeed, some countries are already engaging in private diplomatic talks to try and avoid a vaccine war, ABC News reports.
Meanwhile, Maryland state health officials said yesterday that a third resident has died of a swine flu-related illness.
Health officials said the person lived on the Eastern Shore and had underlying health issues. Further information about the person is not being released because of privacy restrictions. The other Maryland residents whose deaths were attributed to swine flu also had underlying health conditions, Washington Post reports.
At the same time, a swine flu vaccination programme will start in September, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has said.
Vaccines are expected to arrive in Northern Ireland in August.
Mr McGimpsey said the vaccines will be delivered on a phased basis and prioritisation will be necessary.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said health professionals were operating on a "worst case scenario" of 1,800 deaths, a figure which he emphasised was "not a prediction".
"They are worst case scenario planning assumptions we've made to allow the public sector and businesses to plan for the impact of swine flu," he said, BBC News reports.
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