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Avian Flu Fears Said to Help U.S. Prepare for Swine Flu

June 5, 2009
by DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
New York Times

After the H5N1 avian flu emerged widely in Asia in 2003, killing about 60 percent of those infected by it, many countries took steps to head off the crisis that would emerge if that virus were to acquire the ability to jump easily from human to human. It has not, but a number of the measures were helpful. These are some of them:

¶The federal government stockpiled 50 million courses of Tamiflu.

¶New vaccine factories were opened.

¶Pandemic plans were written, and emergency drills were held.

"Everyone was concerned about the avian flu, and biology played a trick on us," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the monitoring group, the Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit organization that has tracked the country's preparations for flu pandemics for several years.

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