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Flu vs. Anthrax

by David Sturtz

Alex at Marginal Revolution (my favorite economics blog — seriously, economics is fun!) posted some clear numbers on the U.S. spending on R&D for the flu vs. spending on anthrax/etc. (Not saying anthrax/etc. is not important, but priorities people!)

Annual U.S. Deaths Due to the Flu: approx 36,000. Annual U.S. Deaths Due to Anthrax: ~1.

Spending on R&D to fight Flu: $283 million.
Spending on R&D to fight Anthrax and other biological agents: $5.6 billion.

He cites this New York Times article:

Dr. Fauci said the Bush administration had increased financing for research and other efforts to fight flu to $283 million this year, from $47 million in fiscal year 2002. …

But those sums are small compared with what the nation plans to spend on vaccines against diseases that the government fears terrorists might use. William Schaffner, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt Medical School in Nashville, noted that the Bush administration last year promised to spend $5.6 billion to help develop vaccines for anthrax and other biological agents.

I found the death number he references in an FDA report on the 2003-4 Flu Season, he references the Centers for Disease control where I could only find this in their 2003-4 Flu Season FAQ :

How many people died from flu during 2003-04?
States are not required to report influenza cases or deaths to CDC. …

Maybe getting a number would be a good starting place…

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