Sunday, August 28, 2005

August 27-28 Flu Update

Point one. A civet is not a cat. My apologies.

The Chicago Tribune has the civet story today.

The Finnish Gulls are suspected to have bird flu, although the Finns continue to say it was LPAI.

The Financial Times of London has the skinny on what stocks can be expected to do if the bird flu hits--hint: sell your airline and travel stocks.

The Sunday Times points out--as we did here some time ago--that elites in theUK government are slated to get scarce Tamiflu.

The Sunday Times has another story--nothing new--laying out the nearly inevitable steps.

The Independent has a couple of interesting bird flu stories. The first compares flu to BSE, which caused a massive upheaval in the nation. The article criticizes what it sees as the government's repeating of the "false reassurance" policy from BSE. In the second, an on-the-scene reporter says there isn't enough petrol to burn the birds in Siberia.

The United Arab Emiates is certainly on the ball.

Italy is clamping down on its borders to attempt to keep the bird flu out. (Stage One of the Osterholm scenario....see "We're Screwed."

The Sunday Herald (Glasgow) has an intelligent, must-read on the vaccine situation, and how the US vaccine will be difficult to ship around the world. Among the reasons are (emphasis added):


US scientists are genetically modifying H5N1 to “remove the lethal features” and then injecting it into embryos to extract antigens. Tests have been carried out on humans and the drug appears to provide immunity. However, all this scientific endeavour could be futile. If H5N1 mutates when it starts to pass between humans directly, the American vaccine will be useless . Even if the new vaccine did work against human-to-human bird flu, the WHO warns it will still take “ possibly years” before it is available to patients. Also, until the USA stockpiles enough of the drug to protect its own population, America is unlikely to distribute the drug to the rest of the world. That’s not inhumanity on the part of the US, says the WHO any country on earth would do the same.

The USA could pass the science behind the new vaccine to the rest of the world ... but every country in receipt of the technology would have to first master it, develop the drug, test it, regulate it and license it – and that will take a very long time. Also, the quantity of antigens being produced for the new vaccine is very low. For every dose of this new vaccine, doctors need up to 12 times the amount of antigens that are required for regular flu vaccines. Two jabs are also needed, rather than one. “We are really talking about years before Joe Smith in New York can go to his health clinic and get a shot for avian flu,”says a WHO spokesperson.


On a similar point, ProMed has this on a recent study released by the WHO on the genetics of the flu. Note the following mod comment (Emphasis added):

Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of this analysis is the finding that antigenic drift is occurring and that some recent isolates are distinguishable from virus isolates that were chosen as the candidate vaccine antigens. This identifies a need for continued surveillance of poultry for the appearance of antigenic variants which may compromise the effectiveness of the current vaccine under development. A rolling program of vaccine development may be required to take account of possible changes in the antigenicity of the virus.


The Sunday Herald (Glasgow) also warns that crossing fingers won't help.

Flu gets a little ink in Galveston.

Recombinomics on the situation in Finland and in Bulgaria.

Effect Measure on Finland.

Effect Measure on the civets--look closely, I think he said they were cats!

You will recall the challenge on Promed which said that dead birds don't migrate, and the charge to find one sick bird actually migrating. Some responses are here.

ProMed notes that the Finnish claim of LPAI does have some merit to it.

Another farm in Japan is H5N1 positive. (ProMed)

Crofsblog has a story on nine unexplained deaths in Nepal, consistent with Spanish Flu symptoms.

Crofsblog has this on WAPO saying that the US is tripling quarantine at the borders, and then notes an inherent problem with this approach.

Crofsblog has an NPR interview with Margaret Chan on WHO.

Russia is saying that it could have caught the bird flu earlier, with more money.

Recombinomics has the story of concerns about two types of flu circulating in Europe, and the chances of them combining.

Recombinomics says the pandemic is looming, and notes that the reservoir of flu in healthy birds could be a problem for years to come.

No real link, but in conclusion, Crofsblog has pointed us to the coverage of the hurricane in New Orleans, which I have watched all evening. Let's watch how a society provides food and water in the midst of a crisis.

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