Flashback: Obama Criticizes Bush Admin for Being Unprepared To Fight Bird Flu

‘I urge my colleagues in the Senate and the House to push this administration to take the action needed to prevent a catastrophe’

Speaking on the Senate floor in October 2005, then-Senator Obama blasted the Bush Administration for being insufficiently prepared to deal with the Avian flu. "Although we have begun to step up to the plate in the Senate," Obama said, "the Administration has still not released the final HHS Pandemic Flu Preparedness Plan."

Obama also penned a letter to the president expressing his anger. 

The brunt of Obama's criticism reads like it could be leveled against his own handling of the current Ebola outbreak: 

This lack of planning is compounded by the fact that we still don’t have a FDA approved vaccine against avian flu, and the one drug that many countries are relying on—Tamiflu—may be less effective than experts had thought. The manufacturer is also struggling to meet the demand, and it could take up to 2 years for it to make enough for the U.S. stockpile, presuming this Administration finally puts in an order for the drug. ...

The failure to prepare for emergencies can have devastating consequences. We learned that lesson the hard way after Hurricane Katrina. This nation must not be caught off-guard when faced with the prospect of an avian flu pandemic. The consequences are too high.

The flyways for migratory birds are well-established. We know that avian flu will likely hit the United States in a matter of time. With the regular flu season coming up shortly, conditions will be favorable for reassortment of the avian flu virus with the annual flu virus. Such reassortment could lead to a mutated virus that could be transmitted efficiently between humans, which is the last condition needed for pandemic flu.

The question is will we be ready when that happens? Let’s make sure that answer is yes. I urge my colleagues in the Senate and the House to push this Administration to take the action needed to prevent a catastrophe that we have not seen during our lifetimes."

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