Saturday, November 05, 2005

November 5 Flu Update--a new death confirmed in Indonesia

Indonesia today confirmed two new cases of bird flu, one of them fatal.

Courtesy Crofsblogs, a story on a sick caregiver, clearly signalling a H2H case, though not necessarily an efficient one (my comment).

The Boston Glove has this report from the states, and how they are thinking through their response to the bird flu. As we know from the Federal plan, the real work will go on at the local level. Decisions like this:

State officials might tell hospitals they may have to evict all but the most critically ill. Several states will ask residents to stay home and take a ''snow day" if a pandemic strikes.
The New Zealand airline industry is looking into how to manage during a pandemic, including running the airport.

AP story on whether pandemic plans are prudent or over-reaction....quoting Marc Siegel.

Thailand is going to produce Tamiflu in Thailand, where it was never patented.

African nations continue their efforts to preapre for bird flu.

LA Times on scared parents calling Docs for Tamiflu.

VOA on Americans "bracing" for pandemic.

CIDRAP on the Asian Development Bank story we ran on Friday.

An editorial from Japan on the need to begin stockpiling drugs now.

CNN reports on Tamiflu, then and now.

Press release on yet another global meeting on the pandemic, this time in Geneva November 7-9.

Outstanding New York Times story. Here you will read about John W. Frost, a chemist at Michigan State University. His role in the flu story was that he developed a way to produce shikimic acid, the building block of Tamiflu. Prior to that, star anise from China had to be used--and suffice it to say, that's not a very "scaleable" endeavor. Still, the debate goes on as to how difficult it will be for countries to make their own Tamiflu. To wit:

Roche has said the manufacturing process requires 10 steps that take six to eight months once the raw materials are in hand. It also says that some steps in production are potentially hazardous because they involve the use of sodium azide, the chemical that makes automobile air bags inflate in an explosive rush. The company says it would take a newcomer two to three years to be able to start production.


But others insist that the manufacturing process, while more challenging than for some drugs, is not extremely difficult.

"I don't think the chemistry is such a big issue," said Yusuf K. Hamied, chairman of Cipla, a generic drug company in India that has announced it will produce oseltamivir, the generic name for Tamiflu. He said Cipla already uses sodium azide, the air bag chemical, to produce the AIDS drug AZT and an anti-epilepsy drug.

Salon says that the bird flu may show even the most conservative conservative that government is necessary.


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