In another signal that the world may be closer to an influenza pandemic, the World Health Organization tonight announced that it has upped the pandemic alert level from 3 to 4, signaling increased human-to-human spread of a virus with pandemic potential. The decision was announced during a late-night press conference from Geneva by WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Security and Environment ad interim, Keiji Fukuda.
Breaking news and analysis from the world of science policy
As part of its effort to slow the spread of swine flu, the U.S. government plans to issue an advisory later today for its citizens to avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico. At a press conference today, Richard Besser, acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the government decided to issue the advisory “out of an abundance of caution.”
Offering new data on the controversial question of how many violent deaths have happened in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the Associated Press has obtained an Iraqi government tally that has never been made public. According to officially filed death certificates, 87,215 Iraqi citizens have died due to violence since 2005.
The warm reception at the National Academy of Sciences was also a coming-out party for President Barack Obama, cementing his reputation as a virtual rock star among U.S. scientists. His substantial but not particularly newsy remarks were probably a little less than the Gospel from on high, but the crowd lapped it up. All the clamor—a crowd of nearly 1000, scientists arriving at 6 a.m. for the 9 a.m.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is expected to raise the pandemic threat level of the current swine flu outbreak within an hour.
The Geneva-based organization planned to convene its Emergency Committee, called under the rules of the International Health Regulations, on Tuesday to reevaluate the threat level but bumped it up 1 day.
From the White House:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2009
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
National Academy of Sciences
April 27, 2009
From the White House pool report of traveling reporters who shadow the president:
From the White House press release; our analysis coming soon.
FACT SHEET: A HISTORIC COMMITMENT TO RESEARCH AND EDUCATION
Today, President Obama will speak before the Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, and discuss his plans to reinvigorate the American scientific enterprise through a bold commitment to basic and applied research, innovation, and education.
"The President of the United States is in the building," said Ralph Cicerone this morning at the academy as thousands of scientists filled the hallways, member center, great hall, auditorium, and offices.
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) says giving the U.S. National Institutes of Health billions more dollars isn't enough to bolster biomedical research. On Saturday at a clinical research meeting in Chicago, he proposed a new independent agency to move bench discoveries to the bedside. And he wants your money to help him keep his seat.