Are We Ready for the Bird Flu?

SEN. BILL FRIST, MAJORITY LEADER: We are way under-prepared. What if it does break out? And it could, it could be tomorrow here in the United States. So the Tamiflu is what people would go after. It's what you're going to ask for, I'm going to ask for immediately.

BRIAN ROSS: Tamiflu is already in short supply for the public, and officials of the Roche company say there could well be a run on the medicine before this winter's flu season.

BRIAN ROSS: How will it work? Who will get the lifesaving drug? Who won't?

LAURIE GARRETT: As far as I know, there is no coherent plan for who will get the meager supplies.

BRIAN ROSS: With 300 million people, how do you decide who gets the 2.5 million doses?

MICHAEL LEAVITT: Well, that's part of our planning process.

BRIAN ROSS: Won't everyone want Tamiflu for themselves, for their families, if this hits? And you're going to have to say we don't have enough.

MICHAEL LEAVITT: Well, that's not something I want to say, and that's the reason we're moving so rapidly.

BRIAN ROSS: But you're going to have to, aren't you?

MICHAEL LEAVITT: Well, it isn't going to happen tomorrow. But if it happened the day after that, we would not be in as good a position as we -- as we will be in six months.

BRIAN ROSS: So for at least this coming winter, this country will be in much the same situation as it was in 1918.

DR. IRWIN REDLENER: We didn't have Tamiflu then and we didn't have the vaccine then. And we struggled to try to save people through the medical care that we had, which was pretty good. And we had a pretty sophisticated public health system. But the fact is, a lot of people died then.

BRIAN ROSS: And this time?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER: A lot of people will die.

This "Primetime" segment aired on Sept. 15, 2005.

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