White House Briefing: Swine Flu

And so there’s nothing that we have seen in our work that would suggest anything but a naturally occurring event.

Q But from a security perspective, nothing to rule it out either — the possibility of bioterrorism?

MR. BRENNAN: We are looking at all different aspects here, but as the doctor said, there is no evidence whatsoever that we have seen. But clearly, in order to make sure that we’re doing everything possible, we’re looking at all potential explanations here — but no evidence whatsoever on the bioterrorism –

Q How do the — Madam Secretary, how do the stocks of effective antivirals today compare to previous outbreaks — SARS, for example? And will DOD stocks be available for the public, or are those just for DOD?

SECRETARY NAPOLITANO: Right now the DOD stocks I believe are for the DOD personnel, but I’ll have to confirm that for you later. I believe that to be the case. We have 50 million courses that are in the national stockpile. As I said, we’re freeing up a quarter of those for use by the states, in addition to whatever state stockpiles they have, should they need it. Priority will go to the states that have confirmed outbreaks of disease. And I don’t have the history on how that compares to what we had on hand for SARS.

DR. BESSER: The strategic national stockpile has considerable assets for treating flu. In addition to the antivirals, there’s the supplies should we see hospitalizations that would warrant support. SARS is a different picture in that there were — there was not a medication that people could take to treat it, and so this is a very different situation.

And as part of our planning for a large outbreak this pre-deployment of availability is a leaning-forward step. We know that many states aren’t seeing any cases, but it was our belief that having things there ahead of time was the way to go, rather than waiting until it got to a point where people were asking.

Q Secretary Napolitano, you mentioned the quarantine power and, you know, that’s really a state and local issue. What additional authority does the President have, what other powers does he have to contain this, to mitigate it, whatever. What else can he do?

SECRETARY NAPOLITANO: I don’t want to give you a legal brief on that right now, but that’s –

Q Perhaps later? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY NAPOLITANO: Yes, exactly. (Laughter.)

We want to make sure that it’s very precisely explained to you and to the public. So perhaps we could brief that to you later on this week.

Q But there are additional things? You guys are confident that — measures that you can take, beyond a declaration of emergency — things that you can do at the federal level?

SECRETARY NAPOLITANO: Yes.

Q Okay. And Robert, actually, can you follow up on that eco question, on the eco trade. I just want to be clear, you’re not at all studying this, measuring what sort of effect this could have economically — you’re just not at that level yet?

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