Obama Earmarks $1.8 Billion for Swine Flu Fight

Swine Flu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama designated $1.825 billion Thursday for emergency use to fight the new pandemic of H1N1 swine flu.

The money will go to buy vaccine ingredients, to help health officials plan immunization campaigns and to help get the vaccines approved at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Obama said in a letter to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"To enhance our nation's capability to respond to the potential spread of this outbreak, and in accordance with the appropriation, I hereby designate $1.825 billion of the contingent appropriation as emergency funds required to address critical needs related to emerging influenza viruses (specifically, the virus known as 2009-H1N1)," Obama wrote.

The money comes from $7.65 billion Congress already appropriated to the Department of Health and Human Services for the swine flu pandemic.

The World Health Organization said earlier Thursday that the H1N1 flu pandemic was the fastest-moving ever and that it was now pointless to count every case.

WHO said at least 50 governments have placed orders for vaccines and WHO vaccine chief Marie-Paule Kieny told Reuters the potential global value of the market was estimated at between $10 billion and $20 billion.

Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, Baxter, GlaxoSmithKline, and AstraZeneca's MedImmune unit all have H1N1 vaccines for the U.S. market. (Editing by Eric Walsh)

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