Bracing for Bird Flu

Will the virus mutate into something more deadly?

When the Senate voted last week to add $4 billion to a defense-spending bill to prepare for a bird-flu epidemic, three-fourths of the money was earmarked for Tamiflu and other antiviral medications. But a dilemma looms. It's difficult to predict when--or if--the current strain of the virus, which is known to have killed just 60 people worldwide, will mutate into something more easily spread among humans. Makers of flu vaccines can't simultaneously produce both bird-flu and regular-flu varieties in sufficient quantity. Shift gears too early, and it could be a false alarm, and millions of Americans who get the normal flu...

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