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house Bill H.R. 5243

Should Congress Put Unused Funds Towards Fighting the Zika Virus?

Argument in favor

America needs to take immediate action to fight the Zika virus and keep it from spreading both at home and abroad. Using this $622 million in unused funds from the Ebola outbreak and HHS to finance those efforts is a logical way to start.

operaman's Opinion
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05/18/2016
This is accounting 101. Ebola money was allocated by Congress from the National Budget. A new bill should be passed for Zika virus. That $600+Million for Ebola is still allocated in the budget but unused. However, that $600M in in the big checking account that could be used for Zika. Just because money was allocated doesn't mean it's tucked inside an envelope waiting to be opened/used. The key word is budget. If the car needs new tires for a vacation, you may have to use funds from your Health Care budget.
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Joshua's Opinion
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05/18/2016
I guess it blows my mind that we're in tremendous amounts of debt and yet there is just money laying around.
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CPMonroe's Opinion
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05/19/2016
Until the CDC, WHO & other countries have the ability & necessary resources to eradicate Zika, reallocating these funds to help fight Zika before the Olympics (& before it arrives on our shores) is a great first step. Anything America can do to halt the spread &/or cure this disfiguring & debilitating disease before it becomes anymore widespread will benefit us all.
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Argument opposed

Just because the media isn't talking about Ebola anymore doesn't mean it's no longer a threat. Congress should take action on Zika — but not with Ebola funds. Besides, the fight could need more than $622 million, requiring Congress to pass another bill.

cmesin's Opinion
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05/19/2016
Why not take that 600 million and spend it on our crumbling infrastructure?
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PhyliciaThomas's Opinion
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05/19/2016
The Zika virus has such a small range of people it negatively effects permanently. Currently we need more research in terminal illnesses which covers a larger demographic. Atop of other problems surmounting this particular virus, the pool of anti-vaccination parents/adults grow. As this means that people are turning down necessary medical care for viruses that could kill many Americans, I do not see fit for spending money on something which does not have a high fatality rate.
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WisKidVA's Opinion
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05/18/2016
No CBO cost estimate. Request for the unspent funds targeted for Ebola fails to acknowledge $1.1B authorized by attachment to an unrelated earlier pass. I have concern that the public sector doesn't recognize the value of coming in under budget and integrate that experience into future 'Cost Estimate' requests. The large funding that was a 'rider' on unrelated passage is a problem. Issues should be unbundled.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed May 19th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 241 Yea / 184 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Appropriations
      Committee on the Budget
    IntroducedMay 16th, 2016

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What is House Bill H.R. 5243?

This bill would allow for $622.1 million dollars to be spent by various federal agencies to fight the Zika virus and prevent it from spreading. If enacted, this funding would be available immediately and would remain available for the rest of the 2016 fiscal year (which runs through September).

None of this funding is new, as it is fully offset by $352.1 million in unused money set aside for the Ebola outbreak and another $270 million in unused administrative funds from the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would get $170 million that would primarily be spent on mosquito control, disease-related research, public education, and Zika preparedness in vulnerable states and territories. Of the total, $50 million would be set aside for health programs for mothers and children in states and territories with Zika outbreaks which would cover prenatal care, delivery and postpartum care, and care for infants with special healthcare needs related to Zika.

$230 million would go to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for vaccine development to stop the spread of infection and prevent future outbreaks. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) would get $103 million for research and development related to Zika, including the production and deployment of new rapid tests for diagnosing Zika and vaccines.

The State Department would get $119.1 million for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), of which $100 million would fund Global Health programs aimed at stopping the spread of the virus through mosquito control. The remaining $19.1 million would be used to staff and manage Zika-related programs, coordinate with foreign government, and provide resources for travelers and at-risk U.S. citizens in countries affected by Zika.

For the sake of ensuring oversight of this spending, $2 million would go to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and inspector generals at HHS and USAID.

Impact

People in U.S. states or territories, or around the world who may be affected by Zika; HHS; and the State Department.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 5243

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) introduced this bill to allow the federal government to quickly take action to fight Zika and prevent its spread without having to authorize new spending:

“This legislation will make dollars available to fight the disease now, prioritizing critical activities that must begin immediately, such as vaccine development and mosquito control. The legislation funds these efforts in a responsible way, using existing resources – including excess funding left over from the Ebola outbreak – to pay for it.”

The Senate has been debating various approaches to dealing with the Zika virus ranging from fully-funding the president’s request for $1.9 billion to approving a smaller $1.1 billion package. The smaller proposal was successfully added to an unrelated spending bill while the president’s request was blocked.

Previously, legislation had been introduced in Congress allowing unused Ebola funds to be repurposed to fight the Zika virus and the Obama administration obliged, transferring $589 million in April 2016. According to the Daily Signal, HHS has about $1.46 billion in leftover Ebola funding.


Of Note: Between January 1, 2015 and May 11, 2016 there were 503 reported cases of the Zika virus in U.S. states — all of which were travel related and 48 involve pregnant women. Another 701 cases were reported in U.S. territories, all but three of which were locally acquired.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases believes that human testing of a Zika vaccine will begin as early as August 2016, and the vaccine could be granted an accelerated  approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before the end of 2017.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: 3D representation of the Zika Virus via Wikimedia Commons)

AKA

Zika Response Appropriations Act, 2016

Official Title

Making appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, to strengthen public health activities in response to the Zika virus, and for other purposes.

    This is accounting 101. Ebola money was allocated by Congress from the National Budget. A new bill should be passed for Zika virus. That $600+Million for Ebola is still allocated in the budget but unused. However, that $600M in in the big checking account that could be used for Zika. Just because money was allocated doesn't mean it's tucked inside an envelope waiting to be opened/used. The key word is budget. If the car needs new tires for a vacation, you may have to use funds from your Health Care budget.
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    THERE IS NO EXTRA MONEY!
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    I guess it blows my mind that we're in tremendous amounts of debt and yet there is just money laying around.
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    Why not take that 600 million and spend it on our crumbling infrastructure?
    Like (6)
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    No CBO cost estimate. Request for the unspent funds targeted for Ebola fails to acknowledge $1.1B authorized by attachment to an unrelated earlier pass. I have concern that the public sector doesn't recognize the value of coming in under budget and integrate that experience into future 'Cost Estimate' requests. The large funding that was a 'rider' on unrelated passage is a problem. Issues should be unbundled.
    Like (3)
    Follow
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    The Zika virus has such a small range of people it negatively effects permanently. Currently we need more research in terminal illnesses which covers a larger demographic. Atop of other problems surmounting this particular virus, the pool of anti-vaccination parents/adults grow. As this means that people are turning down necessary medical care for viruses that could kill many Americans, I do not see fit for spending money on something which does not have a high fatality rate.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    Until the CDC, WHO & other countries have the ability & necessary resources to eradicate Zika, reallocating these funds to help fight Zika before the Olympics (& before it arrives on our shores) is a great first step. Anything America can do to halt the spread &/or cure this disfiguring & debilitating disease before it becomes anymore widespread will benefit us all.
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    Put unused funds toward the ridiculously, crippling my high national debt.
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    This is why we have deficits and debt. We don't have these millions for Ebola much less Zika. Erase this line item. They'll likely call it a budget "cut". Fools run our country.
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    Unused funds should roll over to the next budget or "crisis" or be given back to the people.
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    This has real financial consequences if we wait. And that's the responsibility the American people have a hard time bearing much more of. The sad part is that we will have to look back at suffering and ask why we waited, why we did nothing when we could have done something.
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    It is going to cost a lot more than $622 million to fight off Zika. I would put that $622M toward education instead, where we are lagging badly.
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    Ebola hasn't been eradicated. These funds could still be needed. Congress needs to get their act together and actually pass a bill to take care of this!
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    Along with the requested senate money. This potential pandemic should be stopped before it costs upwards of 10 billion in child health costs.
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    And we need to look into the serious uptake in tick infestations. We are one hair’s breath away from a tick borne pandemic.
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    Experts Admit #Zika Threat Fraud • Mosquito experts are questioning the extent of emergency that actually exists. Chris Barker, Ph.D. a mosquito-borne virus researcher at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, told WebMD: "I think the risk for Zika actually setting up transmission cycles that become established in the continental U.S. is near zero.” • Environmental red flags have been raised over Biotech company Oxitec's GE mosquitos. The potential exists for these foreign genes, which hop from one place to another, to infect human blood by finding entry through skin lesions or inhaled dust. Such transmission could potentially wreak havoc with the human genome by creating "insertion mutations" and other unpredictable types of DNA damage. It’s important to remember, too, that Oxitec wants emergency approval based on the supposed threat of a disease that has yet to have even one locally transmitted case. • A Clean Water Act permit is generally required to spray pesticides in areas where they might end up in water. The permit is intended to keep the toxic chemicals from contaminating water, but now the Zika virus has been used as an excuse to do away with this common-sense precaution. Children exposed to aerial pesticide spraying are about 25 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism or have a documented developmental delay than those living in areas that use other methods of pesticide application (such as manual spreading of granules). • It's possible Zika-carrying mosquitoes could be involved in suspected cases of microcephaly, but there are other factors that should be considered as well. For starters, the outbreak occurred in a largely poverty-stricken agricultural area of Brazil that uses large amounts of banned pesticides. Between these factors and the lack of sanitation and widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency, you already have the basic framework for an increase in poor health outcomes among newborn infants in that area. Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of microcephaly. • Some experts recommend supplementing with one vitamin B1 tablet a day from April through October, and then adding 100 mg of B1 to a B-100 Complex daily during the mosquito season to make you less attractive to mosquitoes. Regularly consuming garlic may also help protect against mosquito bites, as may the following natural insect repellants: Cinnamon leaf oil (one study found it was more effective at killing mosquitoes than DEET) Clear liquid vanilla extract mixed with olive oil Wash with citronella soap, and then put some 100 percent pure citronella essential oil on your skin. Java citronella is considered the highest quality citronella on the market. Catnip oil (according to one study, this oil is 10 times more effective than DEET) is. By Dr. Mercola We’re in the midst of prime mosquito season for much of the U.S. While the exact beginning and end of mosquito season are debatable, The Washington Post recently used Google search data to pinpoint the shape of mosquito season in the U.S. Presumably, Google searchers for mosquitoes increase as mosquitoes ramp up their activity in any given area. Using this premise, The Washington Post found that mosquito searchers shoot up in May and increase steadily through July, then drop off throughout the coming fall and winter months. In the U.S., mosquito season is viewed as more of an itchy nuisance than a health threat, but that has changed somewhat this year, at least perceptually. Fears of Zika virus, which some believe may be associated with suspected cases of the birth defect microcephaly, started in Brazil and have quickly spread throughout the U.S. But are such fears warranted? Experts Admit Zika Threat Risk ‘Near Zero’ The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide $622 million to fight Zika virus. Yet, by White House estimates, this is "woefully inadequate." They've recommended directing $1.9 billion to fight this latest declared public health emergency But mosquito experts are questioning the extent of emergency that actually exists. Chris Barker, Ph.D. a mosquito-borne virus researcher at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, told WebMD: "I think the risk for Zika actually setting up transmission cycles that become established in the continental U.S. is near zero.” Barker expects Zika to go the way of other tropical diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as dengue fever and chikungunya, in the U.S. with perhaps small clusters of outbreaks in southern states and little activity elsewhere. Even in the Florida Keys (Florida, along with Louisiana and Texas, is said to be one of the states most at risk of mosquito-borne illnesses), the Monroe County Tourist Development Council reported: “Dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika viruses are currently not a health threat in the Florida Keys including Key West … There has never been a report of a locally acquired case of chikungunya or Zika anywhere in the Florida Keys, according to officials at the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County.” No Locally Transmitted Cases of Zika Virus Reported in U.S. As of May 25, 2016, Zika has not been spread by mosquitoes anywhere in the continental U.S. Calls to control the Aedes mosquitoes, which may carry Zika, have increased nonetheless, including in New York state, where experts say the risk of local transmission is low. Laura Harrington, Ph.D., chair of Entomology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York told WebMD: "Here in New York state, there's been a lot of pressure placed on mosquito-control districts to do as much as they can. And, they're really strapped for resources, and there's not a huge risk of transmission … ” Maps released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (#CDC) show it’s possible for Aedes mosquitoes to travel as far north as New York, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri and California. According to Harrington, the maps are inaccurate and causing unnecessary hysteria. Harrington continued: "They're showing this mosquito in places where there's no way you're going to find them … It's really unfortunate, because it's causing a lot of hysteria in places where people should be focusing on other health issues, like Lyme disease." GE Mosquitoes to Fight Zika Virus? Biotech company Oxitec has created genetically engineered (#GE) mosquitoes that carry a “genetic kill switch.” When they mate with wild female mosquitoes, their offspring inherit the lethal gene and cannot survive. To achieve this feat, #Oxitec has inserted protein fragments from the herpes virus, E. coli bacteria, coral and cabbage into the insects. The GE mosquitoes have proven lethal to native mosquito populations. In the Cayman Islands, for instance, 96 percent of native mosquitoes were suppressed after more than 3 million GE mosquitoes were released in the area, with similar results reported in Brazil. Oxitec is seeking to release the GE mosquitoes in the U.S. to fight Zika, but as pointed out by Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to USA Today, the GE mosquitoes have not been shown to reduce rates of diseases such as Zika. The GE mosquitoes may also prove to be too expensive for areas that are plagued with mosquito-borne diseases. Environmental red flags have also been raised. The potential exists for these foreign genes, which hop from one place to another, to infect human blood by finding entry through skin lesions or inhaled dust. Such transmission could potentially wreak havoc with the human genome by creating "insertion mutations" and other unpredictable types of DNA damage. And according to Todd Shelly, an entomologist for the Agriculture Department in Hawaii, 3.5 percent of the GE insects in a laboratory test survived to adulthood despite presumably carrying the lethal gene. It’s important to remember, too, that Oxitec wants emergency approval based on the supposed threat of a disease that has yet to have even one locally transmitted case. Biotech Company Calls for ‘Emergency Approval’ of Controversial GE Mosquitoes The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (#FDA) has agreed with an environmental assessment submitted by Oxitec and stated that GE mosquitoes will not have a significant impact on the environment. Technically, this is referred to as a “finding of no significant impact” (#FONSI). The FDA’s report is only preliminary, but Oxitec wants the FDA to throw caution to the wind and give the GE mosquitoes emergency approval in order to fight the Zika virus. If approved, Oxitec, in partnership with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (#FKMCD), plans to release the GE mosquitoes, which go by the name of OX513A, in Key Haven, Florida, an island of the Florida Keys located about 1 mile east of Key West. More than 270,000 people have submitted comments criticizing the FDA’s environmental assessment, and numerous environmental groups are calling for the agency to conduct a more thorough review of the GE mosquitoes’ risks. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said: “The FDA really missed the mark on this one … The agency seems so eager to speed the process along that they have failed to do a real review of the potential risks, and are ignoring widespread concern in the community where the release will happen.” No Permits Required to Spray Near Water A Clean Water Act permit is generally required to spray pesticides in areas where they might end up in water. The permit is intended to keep the toxic chemicals from contaminating water, but now the Zika virus has been used as an excuse to do away with this common-sense precaution. The language was inserted into the Zika Vector Control Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives. It would exempt pesticide applicators from needing a Clean Water Act permit, even when spraying near water. Critics argued the bill would do little to help fight Zika virus, since mosquito-control agencies already have authority to apply pesticides in emergency situations to prevent the spread of infectious disease without applying for permits. Opponents say the bill has nothing to do with combatting Zika and, instead has been on the table for years, with the majority pushing for its passage “under whatever name” was convenient at the time. Aerial Mosquito Spraying Linked to Increased Risk of #Autism Greed is pushing for a number of potentially dangerous “solutions” to combat mosquitoes and related diseases. By removing requirements for permits when spraying pesticides near water, it’s likely the use of these chemicals will skyrocket, including via aerial spraying. Unfortunately, many may suffer as a result. In research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting, aerial #pesticide exposure was linked to an increased risk of developmental delays and autism spectrum disorder among children.The study compared children living in zip codes where aerial pesticide spraying was used each summer to combat mosquitoes that carry the eastern equine encephalitis virus, with children living in non-aerial-spraying zip codes. If authorities use the supposed threat of Zika to increase aerial spraying, it could increase children’s risk of brain disorders, which is the opposite of what anti-Zika campaigns are supposed to achieve. Are There Other Potential Explanations for an Increase in Microcephaly? It's possible Zika-carrying mosquitoes could be involved in suspected cases of microcephaly, but there are other factors that should be considered as well. For starters, the outbreak occurred in a largely poverty-stricken agricultural area of Brazil that uses large amounts of banned pesticides. Between these factors and the lack of sanitation and widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency, you already have the basic framework for an increase in poor health outcomes among newborn infants in that area. Environmental pollution and toxic pesticide exposure have been positively linked to a wide array of adverse health effects, including birth defects. For instance: Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of microcephaly The CDC lists malnutrition and exposure to toxic chemicals as known risk factors The CDC also notes certain infections during pregnancy, including rubella, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, and others are risk factors Natural Ways to Repel Mosquitoes Many experts agree that the threat of an epidemic outbreak of Zika virus on continental U.S. soil is virtually nonexistent. So you needn’t go dousing your backyard in chemicals in an attempt to stay safe from the Zika virus (whose connection to birth defects is still being explored). If however, mosquitoes are bothersome for you, there are some steps you can take to encourage them to live elsewhere. Draining standing water, including pet bowls, gutters, garbage and recycling bins, spare tires, bird baths, children’s toys and so on, is important. This is where mosquitoes breed, so if you eliminate standing water you’ll eliminate many mosquitoes. Planting marigolds around your yard also works as a bug repellent because the flowers give off a fragrance that bugs do not like. This is a great way to ward off mosquitoes without using chemical insecticides. A simple house fan could also help keep mosquitoes at bay if you’re having a get-together in your backyard or, for a longer-term solution, try installing a bat house (bats are voracious consumers of insects, especially mosquitoes). It’s best to avoid using bug zappers in your yard, as these may actually attract more mosquitoes while killing beneficial insects. Insect foggers designed to clear insects out of your backyard should also be avoided, as they require the use of strong, potentially harmful, pesticides and don’t offer lasting protection. Even those clip-on repellents and fans that are widely sold are best avoided, as they contain even more toxic ingredients than repellents that can be applied to your skin, and they pose an inhalation hazard. Some experts also recommend supplementing with one vitamin B1 tablet a day from April through October, and then adding 100 mg of B1 to a B-100 Complex daily during the mosquito season to make you less attractive to mosquitoes. Regularly consuming garlic may also help protect against mosquito bites, as may the following natural insect repellants: Cinnamon leaf oil (one study found it was more effective at killing mosquitoes than DEET) Clear liquid vanilla extract mixed with olive oil Wash with citronella soap, and then put some 100 percent pure citronella essential oil on your skin. Java citronella is considered the highest quality citronella on the market Catnip oil (according to one study, this oil is 10 times more effective than DEET) is http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/06/07/zika-virus-threat.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art2&utm_campaign=20160607Z1&et_cid=DM109756&et_rid=1519187568
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    I'll be honest. I just don't know enough about this virus and am generally opposed to vaccines. Not everything needs a vaccine. I don't like the idea of a vaccine even though I'm aware of a lot of scientific evidence they work, there's no way of quantifying what it is they do in the long term. Let's make a concerted effort to be extra healthy. I know that sounds like hippy shit but we have acknowledge that everything we do to our body has a consequence. Viruses used to occur because basic poor hygiene. Now they occur because man made pollution, pesticides, and GMOs. We can't keep fixing problems we are creating in the first and bankrupting ourselves without much evidence of the severity of this disease. Ebola was a total hoax through and through. They literally pretended like that was the apocalypse. I just can't support this bill with an 20 trillion dollar debt.
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    If there is extra money laying around then pay down our debt.
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    The way this is written is that it's only going to take $622 million to obliterate the problem. Not so. PLEASE do your own research into the quagmire fighting Zika in the USA had turned in to. And if $622 mill, or less, is all it would take to remedy the problem, don't you think we'd be jumping at it already?!?
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    There are bigger viruses and diseases which could use the extra funds for research.
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