Via the Observations blog at the Scientific American: Will the Candidates Tell Us about Their Policies on Pandemics and Biosecurity? Excerpt:
A new strain of H3N2 influenza virus transmitted from pigs to humans has caused U.S. patient cases to spike in the past two weeks. During the same time period, an Ebola virus outbreak in Uganda killed at least 14 people. Both these outbreaks are demanding cooperation among scientists and political leaders.
Back in 2009, the world faced a pandemic H1N1 flu virus outbreak that prompted an additional U.S. vaccination campaign that year and eventually spurred the President to declare swine flu as a national emergency.
Now, with U.S. elections around the corner, voters should know how key candidates plan to address future pandemics and biosecurity threats, and whether elected politicians will fund research on these topics and take scientific findings and recommendations into account when making decisions.
To learn where politicians stand on this issue and 13 others, Scientific American has partnered with ScienceDebate.org and asked the presidential candidates—President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney—to address science and technology policy during the campaign. We are also asking key Congressional leaders eight of the 14 questions.
For the past few weeks, I have been contacting media contacts at Congress to coax responses. (I can now hum stanzas of all hold music played on these politicians’ phone lines.) I gave the Congressional leaders an August 24 deadline, and as yet only Rep. Henry Waxman’s staff has responded with a promise to answer.
SA health and medicine editor Christine Gorman posted the full set of 14 questions here and examined the first three in detail on a weekly basis. Thus far, we’ve had some great discussion and I now want to know your thoughts on the fourth question:
Question #4 Pandemics and Biosecurity: Recent experiments show how avian flu may become transmissible among mammals. In an era of constant and rapid international travel, what steps should the U.S. take to protect our population from emerging diseases, global pandemics and/or deliberate biological attacks?