Throughout this year, the end of which is fast approaching, dire warnings about the magnitude and severity of the swine flu/H1N1 virus swept repeatedly across the United States and much of the world. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology last summer raised the specter that the H1N1 flu strain could infect nearly one half the population of the entire United States.
In typical knee-jerk fashion, Congress rushed to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to combat the looming catastrophe — appropriating close to $8 billion to fight the H1N1 flu virus this season. The federal government already has spent nearly $6.5 billion purchasing and distributing doses of swine flu/H1N1 vaccine. Tens of millions of doses of the vaccine that was specially developed and rushed through production to meet the perceived threat, were shipped to facilities in all parts of the country — where many millions now sit unused and unwanted. One news network reported recently that perhaps as many as 250 million doses of swine flu vaccine may wind up being thrown away by the end of the flu season early next year.
However, if one attempts to find out exactly what is happening to all that vaccine, one meets a brick wall. How many doses have actually been administered? What is the cost per dose? How many doses are actually stockpiled by the federal government and by the states? Repeated calls to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yielded no meaningful information in answer to queries such as these; Internet searches for specifics were similarly unproductive. These questions are relevant for the taxpayers of this country who have been footing the bill for the government’s efforts to meet the threat that it defined, but which now appears not to have materialized. Yet answers are as hard to come by as a Christmas creche on a town square.
The CDC, which earlier this year appeared eager to offer information and opinion highlighting the impending swine flu catastrophe, is now strangely silent when probed about what has happened to all that medicine it said was essential and which it claimed we absolutely had to buy. An organization which prides itself on the ability to define, track and defend against all manner of diseases and other threats to Americans’ health, now is unable to answer basic questions about what has happened to billions of dollars worth of vaccines that it said were needed immediately if not sooner.
Could it be the Obama Administration doesn’t want the American public — the taxpayers who pay for Washington’s spendthrift ways — to know how much money has been wasted already in this effort, and how much will be wasted in the near future on unused and unwanted flu vaccine?
This is the same government that is pressuring Congress to rush through legislation that would give it effective control of virtually the entire American health care system. Accurate information on the degree to which it miscalculated and overreacted to one season’s flu problem, wouldn’t help that agenda right now, would it?