White House Briefing: Swine Flu

Q Robert, how concerned are you about the potential for this outbreak to set back the hopeful economic recovery both here in the United States and globally? And secondly, what if anything are we meant to read into the fact the President Obama decided to go golfing today? Is this part of your effort to reassure Americans that there’s no need to panic?

MR. GIBBS: I’m not sure I would draw a direct conclusion between the news today and the President’s golf. (Laughter.)

I think as Mr. Brennan said, the President has been updated regularly on this and we’ll continue to do so as we will continue to regularly update you.

In terms of anything that is affected economically both here and worldwide, I think it’s probably far too early to determine whether that will be a case or whether that will have some factor. We just want to ensure that people understand the steps that are being taken both here and throughout government to address the situation, as well as, as each of these speakers have said, understand the individual responsibilities that people have. If you have questions, go to the CDC website at cdc.gov. And as the doctor mentioned, there’s also a Spanish version of that site.

Q First to you, Robert. Why was it necessary to have the President checked this morning?

MR. GIBBS: The President hasn’t been checked this morning.

Q Ms. Jarrett indicated today on a Sunday morning program that he had been.

MR. GIBBS: I will double-check. I don’t know of any reason why he would have been.

Q And Dr. Besser –

MR. GIBBS: Let me expand that a little bit. I think these guys obviously have more medical degrees than I do, but the incubation period for this is a 24-48 hour incubation period. The doctors advised us that the President’s health was never in any danger. We’ve been gone from Mexico for now more than nine days.

Q Dr. Besser, you mentioned seed stock for vaccines. What is the threshold that you have to meet before you consider developing that vaccine and deploying that vaccine?

DR. BESSER: There are a number of things that we look at going into the decision as to whether to make a vaccine. One is the severity of the strain, its sustainability in the community; do we anticipate that it’s a virus that will be here next flu season — so you want to prepare for that. Then there are issues in terms of production. Currently manufacturers are working on seasonal flu vaccine for next season, which has three types of influenza virus — or influenza antigen in it. We have to have discussions to determine could they add a fourth; would it require substituting or changing production in another way?

All of those discussions are underway, so that if there’s a decision to move in that direction we’d be ready.

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