A few days ago, on October 2nd, the FedBizOpps.Gov website filed a solicitation for:
Medical Countermeasures for Pandemic Influenza Preparedmess and Response
Solicitation Number: 15-100-SOL-00003
The Department for Health and Human Services said:
The potential for a human influenza pandemic continues to be a public health concern. Four influenza pandemics occurred over the last century. In 2009, we completed the preparation and response to the most recent pandemic caused by the H1N1 virus. Sporadic infections of humans with avian influenza viruses with high mortality (H5N1, H7N9) suggest the public is at risk for a severe influenza pandemic. An outbreak of severe pandemic influenza could cause over 60 million deaths worldwide by some estimates. (source)
The Countermeasures solicitation came just one day after the HHS announced that they have awarded a total of $35.5 million to three companies who will provide doctors with test equipment that will diagnose the flu earlier in the disease process and will give information about the strain of influenza infecting the patient. (source)
With Ebola and influenza exhibiting many of the same symptoms in the early stages taking such precautions seems prudent, especially with the flu season rapidly approaching. Of course the tests that have been developed could also exclude the flu as the cause of a persons illness, and this could indicate that other disease processes are taking place.
The question is, are these tests really to give an early warning of influenza, or are they to alert doctors that something far more sinister may be present?