"Once again, nature has presented us with a daunting challenge: the possibility of an influenza pandemic. Scientists and doctors cannot tell us where or when the next pandemic will strike, or how severe it will be, but most agree: at some point, we are likely to face another pandemic. And the scientific community is increasingly concerned by a new influenza virus known as H5N1 -- or avian flu -- that is now spreading through bird populations across Asia, and has recently reached Europe. While avian flu has not yet acquired the ability to spread easily from human to human, there is still cause for vigilance. The virus has developed some characteristics needed to cause a pandemic: It has demonstrated the ability to infect human beings, and it has produced a fatal illness in humans. If the virus were to develop the capacity for sustained human-to-human transmission, it could spread quickly across the globe. Our country has been given fair warning of this danger to our homeland -- and time to prepare. My administration has developed a comprehensive national strategy, with concrete measures we can take to prepare for an influenza pandemic. Our strategy is designed to meet three critical goals: First, we must detect outbreaks that occur anywhere in the world; second, we must protect the American people by stockpiling vaccines and antiviral drugs, and improve our ability to rapidly produce new vaccines against a pandemic strain; and, third, we must be ready to respond at the federal, state and local levels in the event that a pandemic reaches our shores."--President George Bush.