Tuesday, October 18, 2005

October 17 Flu Update

The Washington Post has a summary of bird flu developments from yesterday. Notably, WHO is saying that even with bird flu in Europe, the threat to human health remains in Asia.

Bird flu has a new European home....Greece.

Here's a bird flu fact sheet from Reuters.

WHO and Roche are talking about upping Tamiflu production.

In Africa, South Africa is preparing for the bird amidst internal criticism,...

just as their minister declares the nation bird flu free...

And Kenya is also making preperations.

WHO says to expect more bird flu in other nations.

The Times of London says to take bird flu scare with a pinch of salt.

Currency speculators are trying to speculate on where the economic damage of bird flu might fall, and invest accordingly.

In counterpoint to the don't worry messages, the EU is sounding the alarm over shortages of anti-virals.

Press release from Wave Biotech on strategic alliances with drug companies to use the Wave Bioreactor.

The media in Malta covers bird flu precautions.

The BBC reports that the Scottish Executive has a 67-page flu contingency plan.

Canada has 16 M doses of Tamiflu, and says it is ready.

The European Public Health Alliance surveys the issue from the perspective of a citizen.

The Czech Republic is protecting its Tamiflu stockpile by banning retail sale of the drug.

Roche is donating a small portion of Tamiflu to Romania, and selling a larger amount to Turkey.

The Department of Health in Taiwan has asked for permission to license Tamiflu.

Singapore says it has a good stockpile of Tamiflu....

Meanwhile, the Thais are jumping in with both feet to produce their own generic Tamiflu

Dr Thawat downplayed concerns over intellectual property rights, saying that the government would introduce a compulsory license allowing the country to produce the drug on the grounds of urgent public health needs.

The National Review on how litigation and regulation killed the US vaccine program.

The EU hopes for a bird flu vaccine next winter.

CIDRAP on Greece....

and on Romania.

Effect Measure looks into the commonly used phrase that we are "overdue" for a pandemic.

Effect Measure on Greece, and upbeat news.

Effect Measure on the continuing mystery of "secret" Bush Administration bird flu briefings to members of Congress.

Effect Measure captures a blog debate over the generic Tamiflu issue.

Recombinomics says there has been a bird flu cover up in Europe.

There's dead birds in Macedonia, causing concern (Recombinomics)

Recombinomics on the Ragunan Zoo back in the news, and another possible zoo-related case.

ProMed on Greece and Romania.

4 Comments:

At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm doing my best to understand all of the relevant info, but can you clear something up for me? Most stories seem to mention that there are vaccines in development to combat bird flu, but I was under the impression that this would be impossible until scientists know the exact strain (and mutated variation of said strain) that would be the culprit. What am I missing?

Also, optimists are talking about stopping a pandemic by containing it when it first breaks out -- Even if this is somehow successful, however, how do we know the strain won't mutate somewhere else? Would multiple containments be required? Short of killing off every bird, could we really ever feel safe?

Sorry if I'm misunderstanding anything and thanks.

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger Orange said...

Thanks for reading, and for posting your questons.

Others may chime in, but generally we see estimates for six months for a flu vaccine to be developed--that's after pandemic has started. Countries putting one together now are hopeful that it will be close enough to the final version to confer enough immunity to keep the disease from spreading wildly (ie 50% of a population). It may be better than doing nothing.

Second, you are exactly right. If the flu broke out in Indonesia human-to-human, and you rushed in with your Tamiflu and contained it, you could easily face a similar situation in Vietnam a year later.

As for feeling safe, the population has to be immunized against this bug before it loses its pandemic potential. That means either getting sick of being vaccinated.

 
At 7:22 PM, Blogger Orange said...

A couple of other points. I checked on the FluWiki (www.fluwikie.com), and found this:

# One recent study demonstrated good cross-protection against H5N1 in mice following vaccination with an H5 influenza vaccine created through reverse genetics (see References: Lipotov 2005). Protection was achieved despite antigenic differences and incomplete matching between the vaccine strain and the challenge virus. Although these findings are promising, it is not clear if similar protection would occur for humans.

# A second study suggested that use of adjuvanted prototype vaccines may induce antibody capable of neutralizing a pandemic strain until a well-matched vaccine can be made available.

 
At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your thorough reply. Those last two bits, I suppose, are at least some reason for hope. I suppose, like everything else having to do with this, it's a battle against time. If this holds off for a few years perhaps we'll be reasonably prepared.

--Ed

 

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