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Congress Unlikely To Approve Obama’s Request for Additional Flu Money, Majority Leader Says

U.S House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Wednesday expressed skepticism that Congress would approve President Obama’s recent request for an additional $2 billion to help fight the H1N1 (swine flu) virus, Reuters/Washington Post reports.

“A pending war funding bill that has already passed the House of Representatives included $2 billion while the Senate version had $1.5 billion,” the newspaper writes. “If … that’s insufficient there’s obviously an opportunity to pass an additional supplemental” at a later date, Hoyer said, adding, “We want to make sure that we have the funds necessary to respond to this pandemic.” Reuters/Washington Post also reports that the White House does not believe the “bills provide the administration enough flexibility to respond to the outbreak of the flu virus” (Polofsky, Reuters/Washington Post, 6/3).

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan on Wednesday encouraged “governments not to overreact to global outbreaks of swine flu as the agency moves closer to declaring the first pandemic in four decades,” according to Bloomberg. Instead, “Chan suggested authorities must use the time before swine flu becomes global to revise emergency plans and convey the measures to their countries’ populations” (Gale, Bloomberg, 6/4).

WHO Antivirals Arrive in Nigeria

Xinhua reports the WHO on Tuesday donated doses of the antiviral Tamiflu totaling 408 million naira – $2.8 million – to Nigeria, “enough to treat at least 184,800 people.”

Nigeria is one of 72 countries that will receive Tamiflu – a drug shown to stop the spread and severity of the H1N1 flu. “[P]riority was given to vulnerable countries, taking into consideration national manufacturing and procurement capacity,” Xinhua writes (Xinhua, 6/3).