Role of Corporations in Pandemic Preparedness & Response
In its original National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, which was issued in November 2005, the federal government noted that the private sector "should play an integral role in preparedness before a pandemic begins, and should be part of the national response."
HHS took it a step further on the department's pandemic preparedness web site, http://www.pandemicflu.gov, indicating that: "In the event of pandemic influenza, businesses and other employers will play a key role in protecting employees' health and safety as well as limiting the negative impact to the economy and society."
On June 3, 2008, the U.S. government released proposed guidances for businesses on the stockpiling of antiviral medications as part of pandemic flu planning. The guidances, which are posted at http://www.pandemicflu.gov for public comment, state: "Private stockpiles, in coordination with public health stockpiles, would extend protection more broadly than could be achieved through the public sector alone and improve the ability to achieve the national pandemic response goals of mitigating disease, suffering, and death, and minimizing impacts on the economy and functioning of society."
Antivirals Key Line of Defense
If and when a pandemic strikes, antivirals will be a key line of defense until a vaccine can be developed and distributed. According to the draft government guidance released on June 3, "once the pandemic strain emerges and is identified, based on current technologies, it will take at least 20 weeks [five months] before the first doses of a pandemic vaccine are available ... By contrast, antiviral drugs can be stockpiled in advance and therefore be available when a pandemic begins."
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