Friday, July 01, 2005

July 1 Flu Update

The lead story today is a WHO statement on what apparently was a mischaracterization of WHO announcemnts on the flu. We reported here, in fact, that the take-away for the MSM was that the chance of a pandemic had lessened. A commenter to yesterday's update pointed me to this from WHO. Boldface is mine.

Some reports now circulating suggest that WHO has downgraded its assessment of the pandemic threat. These reports are unfounded. The experts were specifically asked to search for evidence that could substantiate concerns raised first at a WHO consultation of international experts held at the beginning of May in Manila. That consultation considered suggestive findings, largely based on epidemiological observations, that the H5N1 virus had changed its behaviour in ways consistent with an improved, though not yet efficient, ability to spread directly from one human to another. The specific epidemiological observations considered included milder disease across a broader age spectrum and a growing number of clusters of cases, closely related in time and place.

More recently, testing of clinical specimens by international experts working in Viet Nam provided further suggestive evidence of more widespread infection with the virus, raising the possibility of community-acquired infection. These findings have not been confirmed by the present investigative team.

Firm evidence of improved transmissibility would be grounds for moving to a higher level of pandemic alert. Because of the huge consequences of such a change, WHO is following a cautious approach that combines heightened vigilance for new cases with immediate international verification of any suggestive findings.

Effect Measure on the WHO report.

Helen Branswell on flu blogging. comments on the WHO report.

Via, the US is belatedly trying to get tamiflu supplies.

Reuters on WHO "calming fears."

CNN on the tamiflu shortage, with aggressive US efforts.

Chinese laud their flu prevention efforts which have netted "zero human death."

The other bird flu is spreading in Japan.

Flu planning going Canada.
CIDRAP on the WHO "status unchanged" report.

Recombinomics on the recent genetic information on bird viruses in Vietnam.


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