NIH Director Speaks To Huffington Post About Effects Of Sequestration

The Huffington Post features an interview with NIH Director Francis Collins, who speaks about the effects of sequestration on the agency’s budget. Because of forced cuts, “[i]nternal NIH estimates show that it will end up cutting more than the 700 research grants the institutes initially planned to sacrifice in the name of austerity,” the Huffington Post writes, adding, “If lawmakers fail to replace sequestration at the end of September, that number could rise above 1,000 as the NIH absorbs another two percent budget cut on top of the five percent one this fiscal year.” Collins said, “If you want to convert this into real meaningful numbers, that means people are going to die of influenza five years from now because we don’t yet have the universal vaccine. … And God help us if we get a worldwide pandemic that emerges in the next five years, which takes a long time to prepare a vaccine for. If we had the universal vaccine, it would work for that too,” according to the news service. He said that if sequestration is not fixed over the next decade, “I think we’ll be no longer the world leader in the production of science, technology and innovation. You can’t look at the curves and say, ‘oh, well, it’ll be fine,’ if we stay on this track. It will not be,” the news service writes (Stein, 8/23).