Leonard Krishtalka kris at FALCON.CC.UKANS.EDU
Thu Jan 4 12:41:51 CST 1996

>>>Date: 01/04/96  Time: 08:46
>>>BGovernment Shutdown Now Being Felt in Nation's Laboratories
>>>    WASHINGTON (AP)   Hundreds of research labs are closed or
>>>working at half speed. A supercomputer is idled at a cost of
>>>$30,000 a week. And health workers are uncertain whether the
>>>nation's flu vaccine will be ready for next fall.
>>>    Waves of disorder and confusion from the partial federal
>>>government shutdown are beginning to sweep across America's
>>>scientific community. Some experts say the damage already done may
>>>take months to repair.
>>>    ``It is a disaster that grows geometrically,'' said Wendy
>>>Baldwin, a top executive at the National Institutes of Health. ``It
>>>will take us six to nine months to dig out and get caught up. It is
>>>a nightmare.''
>>>    More than 3,000 NIH research grants are clogged in a pipeline
>>>that has been turned off by the budget fight between President
>>>Clinton and Congress that has caused hundreds of thousands of
>>>federal workers to be furloughed and left many government agencies
>>>without 1996 spending authority.
>>>    The same thing is happening at the National Science Foundation
>>>that, in normal times, sends out about 80 checks daily for research
>>>grants, each representing support for about 200 workers:
>>>scientists, engineers, technicians and graduate students.
>>>    Anne Petersen of the NSF said a researcher in San Diego had
>>>reserved a Cray supercomputer starting this month, but has not been
>>>able to use it because his federal check was delayed. Instead, the
>>>scientist is having to pay $30,000 a week in penalty costs, she
>>>    At the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta,
>>>scientists are running about a week behind in the complex
>>>preparations for next fall's flu vaccine.
>>>    Before pharmaceutical firms can start making the vaccine for the
>>>1996 flu season, the CDC must ship viral samples to labs all over
>>>the world so scientists can decide which of the flu strains to use
>>>in the vaccine.
>>>    The samples were delayed about a week because CDC had no money
>>>for delivery service.
>>>    ``We couldn't charge the shipping cost,'' said Dr. Nancy Cox of
>>>the CDC. Alerted to the problem, the Food and Drug Administration,
>>>which is not affected by the shutdown, let the sister agency use
>>>its Federal Express credit card numbers and the shipments finally
>>>went out.
>>>    Stacks of disease surveillance reports, which can help identify
>>>the flu virus that may be used in the vaccine, are still
>>>unprocessed at CDC. Cox said she was given added workers this week
>>>to help meet critical deadlines.
>>>    ``U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers have to start culturing at
>>>least one flu strain by February 1 if they are going to have the 70
>>>million doses needed in this country next fall,'' said Cox. ``We
>>>usually solve any problems that arise, but it has been a
>>>    A key meeting on the vaccine is set for Jan. 30 in Washington.
>>>Unanswered is how the CDC will pay to fly its scientists to
>>>    Audrey Ashby of Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories in Philadelphia said
>>>that so far drug manufacturers have been able to keep to their flu
>>>vaccine schedule despite the government shutdown.
>>>    Petersen, who is deputy director of the National Science
>>>Foundation, said the tens of thousands of American scientists who
>>>depend on grants from the NSF are beginning to feel the pinch from
>>>the lack of federal payments.
>>>    ``They can't pay their bills or salaries. This is bringing
>>>scientific research in this country to a halt,'' Petersen said.
>>>    Some labs are hit worse than others, she said. But all are going
>>>to start suffering by next week.
>>>    Even if the shutdown ends now, Baldwin said, it will take weeks
>>>to clean up the mess.
>>>    ``We've got February grant renewals coming up, and I don't see
>>>how we can do it,'' she said. ``That will be another 3,000
>>>applications stalled.''
>>>    In the meantime, laboratories at many colleges and universities
>>>stand idle, broke and uncertain of what to do, she said.
>>>    ``They can't get in touch with us,'' said Baldwin, because there
>>>are no federal workers around to process communications.
>>>    Other impacts:
>>>      Hurricane and flash flood forecast research has stopped at the
>>>National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and officials said
>>>this could affect severe weather warnings next spring and summer.
>>>      Clinton said the Environmental Protection Agency shutdown has
>>>stalled research about how to detect and control cryptosporidium, a
>>>particularly troublesome bacteria that has contaminated drinking
>>>water systems.
>>>      A stopgap spending bill funding Veteran's Administration
>>>hospitals expired at midnight Wednesday. Some officials are
>>>concerned that supplies may run short at some of the VA hospitals
>>>by late January if funds are not restored.
>>>APNP-01-04-96 0844EST
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Leonard Krishtalka                              phone:  913/864-4540
Natural History Museum                     fax:       913/864-5335
The University of Kansas                     e-mail:  kris at
Lawrence, KS 66045

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